April 2009

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Screw Small Samples

In unlimited transaction leagues, my mantra is, "Screw small samples."  If I like what I see over a small period of time, I'll pick the guy up.  Most rosters have a few filler spots, and you can drop the boring 36 year-old for the interesting 24 year-old.  Obviously you shouldn't be an idiot and drop C.C. Sabathia for Emilio Bonifacio.  But if you have a roster spot and you like Bonifacio, just pick him up and ask questions later.  The guys who had Cliff Lee and Carlos Quentin last year, and Hanley Ramirez in '06, are the ones who saw something they liked in a small sample and acted first.  Be patient with your stars, but pull the trigger on those breakout candidates.

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Spring Training SLG Leaders

Just to preserve it for the year, let's look at the Spring Training slugging percentage leaders of 2009.  Which of these guys will go on to have massive breakout years, if any?  Minimum 30 ABs.

  • Todd Helton - .950
  • Jesus Guzman - .922
  • Scott Rolen - .889
  • Mark Teahen - .883
  • Milton Bradley - .800
  • Matt Brown - .787
  • John Buck - .778
  • Endy Chavez - .771
  • Ray Sadler - .762
  • J.J. Hardy - .761
  • Ryan Howard - .760
  • Corey Hart - .757
  • Mark DeRosa - .750
  • Nelson Cruz - .745
  • Erick Aybar - .741
  • Jason Lane - .736
  • Torii Hunter - .735
  • Curtis Granderson - .732
  • Nick Markakis - .729
  • Josh Hamilton - .728
  • Nomar Garciaparra - .727
  • Chris Shelton - .720
  • Jeff Mathis - .717
  • Ryan Spilborghs - .712
  • Justin Morneau - .711
  • Craig Monroe - .704
  • Taylor Teagarden - .700
  • Russell Martin - .698
  • Travis Snider - .698
  • Jayson Werth - .696
  • Brad Emaus - .694
  • Robb Quinlan - .694
  • Pablo Sandoval - .691
  • Yuniesky Betancourt - .683
  • Kendry Morales - .682
  • Mike Wilson - .681
  • Mike Rivera - .676
  • Robinson Cano - .667
  • Alex Cintron - .667
  • Austin Jackson - .667
  • Gerardo Parra - .667
  • Chris Carter - .658
  • Shelley Duncan - .657
  • Jed Lowrie - .657
  • Alex Gordon - .653

Interview With The Fantasy Resource

Recently I did a Q&A with Tyler Norton of The Fantasy Resource.  Check it out.

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Roundtable: Players You Avoid

This week's roundtable was hosted by Adam Ronis of Newsday.  The question:

Do you have players that you will absolutely not draft even if they fall far in snake drafts or go cheaply in an auction and if so why? Include examples.

Click here to read our answers.

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Top Injured Players

Charles T. asks:

As the season starts, could you do the readers a solid and give us a snapshot of all the top fantasy players that are starting the season injured, dinged up or otherwise hurting in some way? And also, maybe some thought on when to expect they'll be back and/or how their season may turn out. I think it would help a lot.

Agreed.  It may be useful now, but it will also be interesting to look back after the season and see whether any of these injuries mattered.

1.  Hanley Ramirez - Tendinitis in right rotator cuff.  Hanley has had shoulder issues for years now, but they never affected his performance.

7.  Ryan Braun - Bruised thumb, strained oblique.  The oblique thing worries me, given how Braun played while dealing with a similar injury at the end of the '08 season.  A down year from Braun would be a big blow to his owners.

14.  Lance Berkman - Biceps tendinitis.  I'm concerned, after paying $35 for Berkman in my keeper auction league.

15.  Chase Utley - November hip surgery.  At one point we thought Utley would miss a month or more, but he's expected to be ready for Opening Day.  I think he will be fine and was probably a bargain in early drafts.

16.  Alex Rodriguez - If you got A-Rod as a third round pick, it might really pay off.  He had hip surgery this month and reports are optimistic.  He could be back before May.

17.  B.J. Upton - He's expected to return April 13th.  Upton had shoulder surgery in November.  He's being drafted as if he'll return to 20 HR power.

18.  Johan Santana - Quickly overcame early March elbow tightness.  We've seen many times with pitchers where a small injury leads to a big one.  Still, Johan's been dominant and healthy for a long time.

20.  Manny Ramirez - He signed late and missed time with a sore hamstring.  With the opt-out carrot dangling, it seems that Manny will manage 500 ABs.

23.  Ichirio Suzuki.  This was way too early to be drafting Ichiro in my opinion.  He's headed to the DL for the first time in his career with a bleeding ulcer.  He doesn't have a timetable yet.

27.  Carlos Lee.  Fractured his pinkie in August.  Seemingly had more than enough time to be back at 100%.

35.  Brian Roberts.  Back spasms and a respiratory infection.  So far, the ailments seem minor.

38. Kevin Youkilis.  Sprained ankle during WBC.  Seems minor.  Still too early to draft him.

41.  Carlos Quentin.  Wrist surgery in September.  If this leads to a slow first half, this pick will look even worse.

43.  Cole Hamels.  Scheduled to make first appearance April 10th after getting an anti-inflammatory injection for a sore elbow.  Hamels threw more pitches than anyone in baseball last year.

49.  Alexei Ramirez.  Deep cut on his knee during spring game; not a big deal.

50.  Chipper Jones.  Withdrew from WBC with a strained right oblique.  As long as he manages 400 elite ABs it'll be worth it.

Other top 100 considerations: Garrett Atkins, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, Chad Billingsley, Joe Mauer

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A Look At Rick Porcello

20 year-old Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello was given a spot in the big league rotation today.  He'll attempt to make the jump from High A ball to the Majors.  Let's start with the scouting reports.

ESPN's Keith Law had this to say about Porcello, who posted a 5.2 K/9 and 64.1% groundball rate at High A last year:

He doesn't miss a lot of bats with the new approach, but generating ground balls keeps the pitch count down, and pitchers who throw strikes and don't give up home runs can be very successful. But bear in mind that Porcello has the raw stuff to be more of a strikeout pitcher, and when he reaches the majors, he could blend the two approaches and be one of the top pitchers in the game.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus admits Porcello is "incredibly difficult to project" due to the Tigers' mandate last year to work efficiently.  He says Porcello's "readiness is debatable."

In other words, throw projection systems out the window (although Baseball Prospectus' top comp of Roy Halladay is intriguing).

So here we are with a prospect all the gurus love and no ability to project his stats.  What to do?  My usual recommendation is to draft/pick up now and ask questions later.  That applies, but don't be cutting anyone you drafted in the first 18 rounds or so for him.  I think Porcello will hold his own in the Majors, but he may only go five innings in a lot of his starts and the Tigers' bullpen is questionable.  So he may not win games.  And he doesn't profile as a guy who will rack up Ks like Tim Lincecum did, even if he does bump his K rate in the Majors.  It's probably best not to get seduced by Porcello in a mixed league, especially one with 12 teams or less. 

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