March 2012

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9 Players I'd Rather Not Draft

You know the drill. This isn't "avoid at all costs." If one of these players falls far enough from his ADP, draft him. Otherwise, stay away.

Yes, ADP, your favorite acronymn. You see it in your Alphabits and in your dreams. In dark alleys, your imagination manifests silhouettes of "ADP." A. D. P. ADP!

Again, we'll be using data from FantasyPros.com. 

David Wright, ADP 32.2: Eric Karabell continues to pimp David Wright as being undervalued, but I don't see it. I'd much prefer Brett Lawrie or Pablo Sandoval. No injury concerns, and it almost feels as if Wright's upside is Lawrie's floor, as bizarre as that sounds. Wright did lower his SwStr% (10.4% in 2010, 7.7% in '11) and increase his Contact% (76.6% in '10, 81.8% in '11), but he only managed a 12% HR/FB, and his GB% reached a career high. There are too many question marks to justify spending a third round pick on Wright.

Starlin Castro, 54.7: We've been over this. Overrated because of his youth and imagined upside, although it does seem that the fantasy community is slowly catching on. 

Elvis Andrus, 62.2: See above. As I preached back in January, don't draft these two. There are so many other valuable options in the fourth and fifth rounds (Brett Lawrie, Stephen Strasburg, Yovani Gallardo). I'd rather have Dee Gordon

Michael Bourn, 60.6: Give me Coco Crisp 110 spots later. Bourn managed 722 PA last year. With 650 PA and BA regression (.271 career BA), you've got Crisp with 5 or 10 more SB. Note that Coco stole 49 bases in only 583 PA in 2011. 

Daniel Hudson, 102.9: Amongst pitchers with 150 or more IP in 2011, Hudson was 46th in SIERA (3.78). There are too many other enticing options at SP near this ADP to consider drafting Hudson (Mat Latos, Adam Wainwright, Matt Moore, Yu Darvish). 

Adam Jones, 105.1: Career GB% of 48.8%. HR/FB% fluctuating from 7% to 17%. Atrocious BB%. Career SwStr% of 13%. Career high of 12 SB. Floundering organization with mediocre lineup. Trouble staying on the field (132 G in ’08, 119 in ’09). Maybe people see his 2007 AAA numbers and still think upside? There is no upside here. He’ll end up hitting sixth again when he posts one of his patented sub .300 wOBA months. Note also that he scored 68 runs last year. Mediocre player in terribad situation. Why?

Jeremy Hellickson, 144.9. Steve Slowinski of FanGraphs.com wrote an excellent article concerning Hellickson and BABIP a few days ago. I suggest you read it. BABIP (or, in this case, what should really be called BABIPA) is a complex and misunderstood stat, mostly because it is quite imprecise. We need to know more about the nature of the hits, hence Steve's mention of the holy grail HITF/X data. However, for a pitcher, as for a hitter, there are certain parameters of sustainability. Ichiro's BABIP fluctuated to .399 (!), but always came back to the .330s. Obviously, Hellickson cannot post another .223 BABIPA. With a 5.57 K/9 and 4.78 SIERA in 2011, please let someone else draft Hellickson. Please take Cory Luebke, Anibal Sanchez, or Brandon Morrow instead. 

Johnny Cueto, 152.2: Umm, blech? 60th in SIERA (3.93) in 2011 with a 6.00 K/9. Stay far, far away. 

Justin Morneau, 208.4: At this point, Morneau is just a name. He has given us no reason to believe he can return to pre-concussion performance levels. I'm rooting for him, but I'm not drafting him. 

Good luck in your drafts, kids. Don't be afraid to reach for the player you want. Do bring a printout of your tiered rankings, in order to quickly and easily cross players off. Don't reach for positions or categories. The season is loooong. Get the best player available and work the rest out later. If it's close between two or three players, obviously draft the player that fills category and position needs. As they say in Chinese, jia you 加油!


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Who Drafted The Best Team?

The 2012 RotoAuthority League drafted last night.  It's a 12-team, 5x5 mixed league with two catchers and a 1500 inning cap for pitchers.  As always, catchers and closers went early.  Click here to see each team's roster/draft results.

After you've had a chance to review, vote for the best team in the poll below.

 


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Closer Updates: Balfour, Soria, Perez, Thornton

It's never too late to squeeze in an extra mock or 10, but for the most part, real draft season is finally upon us. Only about a week remains till Opening Day in Japan, and you'll want to have conducted your draft by then so as to account for the players who will partake in those ballgames. After all, every stat accrued counts.

Now that the drafts count, remember to study up on the latest in injuries and role battles. It seems obvious, but at some point we've all been part of a draft in which some slacker selects a recently DL'd type in the 12th -- to the snickers of everyone in the chat forum.

On that note, here's the latest on a few bullpen situations you'll want to be apprised of heading into the big day.  For up-to-the-minute bullpen updates, follow CloserNews on Twitter.

Grant Balfour, Athletics

Jon Heyman threw us a curveball, guessing incorrectly that Brian Fuentes would be named the Athletics' closer about 20 minutes before manager Bob Melvin announced Grant Balfour had the job.  Hopefully you weren't finishing up a draft during the interim of those two tweets.  Fantasy owners had been preferring Balfour slightly, but were avoiding the situation in general until the 19th round.  Balfour has only 10 career saves to Fuentes' 199, but is clearly the superior pitcher.  He now belongs in that uncomfortable closer-drafting period, around picks 170-210, and is as good a bet as Chris Perez, Kyle Farnsworth, Frank Francisco, Javy Guerra, Matt Capps, Matt Thornton, Jim Johnson, and Brett Myers.  - this paragraph by Tim Dierkes

Joakim Soria, Royals

Soria exited his latest ineffective Cactus League appearance mid-inning due to pain in his pitching elbow. Sure enough, he underwent an MRI, which revealed damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. That ligament, folks, is the one that can lead to Tommy John surgery, a procedure Soria's already had earlier in his career.

While a second TJ is not confirmed for Soria, this is obviously not an encouraging development. Even if he can avoid surgery, I would expect him to be out well beyond Opening Day, leaving the door open for Jonathan Broxton or Greg Holland to take the reins as closer (I'm omitting Aaron Crow for now, as it sounds like he will be splitting his season between the bullpen and rotation).

Of those two, I'd like to see Holland get a shot at closing. His surface stats were superb last season, and the peripherals (2.22 SIERA) suggest it was no fluke. With a booming strikeout rate and very solid control, Holland is more than capable of holding down the job. As for Brox, well, we all have that T-shirt. He was once an elite stopper, but he hasn't been the same guy since that outing -- you know, that 48-pitch debacle in June 2010. He was terrible in the second half that season and missed basically all of last season. Even if he's fully healthy -- which I hope he is -- is it fair to expect him to return to his old form?

In any event, we'll have to get official word from the Royals on Soria's status -- and his potential replacement -- but be sure you're up to speed before your draft.

Chris Perez, Indians

CP has recovered quickly from an oblique injury suffered early in camp. The right-hander threw a bullpen session this weekend, is slated to return to Cactus League action this week, and projects to be ready by Opening Day.

That's a net win, because injuries aren't cool, but for fantasy purposes, the Tribe could do far better. Perez was one of the worst closers in baseball last season by the peripherals, with very little daylight between his low strikeout rate and high walk rate. SIERA sure wasn't impressed: 4.65.

Vinnie Pestano is waiting in the wings, and he racks up Ks by the bunches, but for now, it looks like Perez is still the man. Don't make Perez anything more than one of the last -- if not the last -- closers off the board, but hey, we all need saves, and he has the job if he doesn't suffer any further injury setbacks.

Matt Thornton, White Sox

Sox skipper Robin Ventura (still not used to calling him that) tabbed Thornton as the tentative leader to close before camp even opened, and with Opening Day not far off, the first-year manager's word looks to be holding true.

Chris Sale, who vultured some saves from Sergio Santos last year, is now out of the picture because he's in the starting rotation. He was never expected to be a threat, though, because his transition has been in the works since last season. Instead, rookie Addison Reed was thought to be Thornton's stiffest competition, but his lack of The Experience seems to have earned him no favors with Ventura. Surprisingly, it's Jesse Crain who is also vying for saves, although he has been dealing with an oblique strain, presumably giving Thornton a leg up.

Thornton is the guy to target until further notice, and frankly, he could be a good value pick. After a disappointing start to 2011 (marred by some bad luck, too) that ultimately saw him demoted from the closer's role, the lefty pretty much bounced back to his career norms. If Thornton gets the job again out of camp, I wouldn't expect that to happen again. Draft with relative confidence.



Late-Round Pitchers To Target

It's the end of the draft and--sensibly--you've saved your last few picks for the back end of your rotation. Or maybe you play in a deep league, with eight or 10 pitchers instead of six or seven. Either way, the aces have been gone for hours, and the last of the dependable veterans and projectable rookies are off the board. Scrolling through the names on Yahoo! or ESPN or wherever, you see bum after bum. You pause at Javier Vazquez, only to remember that he's retired. Roy Oswalt's name intrigues you involuntarily. The clock is ticking and the autodraft function will choose Jose Molina to be your third catcher in five seconds ... whom do you reach for?

I'll be reaching for one of these guys. I'll be taking a look at some pitchers with mockdraftcentral.com ADPs over 200 and K/BB ratios over 3.00 or K/9 ratios over 7.00. A special few have both, making them players not to leave undrafted when filling out your rotation. Don't get me wrong, these are warty players with low ADPs for good reasons. Some turned in disappointing seasons last year, some had inflated ERAs, some pitch for Pittsburgh, and a lot of them are injury-prone. But when you're taking your last few pitchers, you're a lot better off taking some upside than settling for the Jair Jurrjenses and Luke Hochevars of the world.

I like to look at a pitcher's K/BB numbers for potential breakouts, probably because I happened to notice that Chris Carpenter had a K/BB ratio of about 4.00 the year before he turned into an ace. That's not what usually happens, but low walks and high strikeouts tend to be a winning combination, and they tend to carry from one year to the next. Perhaps the nicest thing about pitchers like this is that they are rarely team killers--it's tough to be horrible with a K/BB over 3.00.

K/BB

Brandon McCarthy has gotten a lot of good press for his 2011 season, but it hasn't helped his 203.32 ADP. To be fair, he's getting drafted in 99% of leagues, so you can't afford to save him till the last round, but his 4.92 K/BB ratio is way above plenty of ace pitchers. His history with the DL makes him a risk, but he's definitely a risk worth taking. Jake Peavy (3.96 K/BB, 238.87 ADP), Scott Baker (3.84 K/BB, 2.10 ADP) and Chris Capuano (3.17 K/BB, 3.06.06) are pitchers of a similar vein. There's a pretty good chance they'll get injured at some point, and an unpleasantly high chance they'll miss most of any given season, but as long as they're healthy, they're valuable.

Josh Tomlin put up a surprising 4.24 K/BB in a quiet-good season for the Indians. So quiet that his ADP is 312.27 and he's getting drafted in under 13% of leagues. Josh Collmenter's shiny ERA is likely to regress, but his 3.57 K/BB tells me he shouldn't be regressing too much. His 247.97 ADP is too low.  Jonathan Niese (3.14 K/BB, 2.42.71 ADP) had another quiet-good season for a Mets team without a lot of good press. Ricky Nolasco's ERA and WHIP never seem to live up to his K/BB, which was an excellent 3.36 last year. His ADP is just 246.36 and while this might not be the year he puts it all together, the Marlins' improved offense and defense ought to help him out.

Ted Lilly disappointed last year, but he still managed 3.10 K/BB and is a good bounce-back candidate with a 236.14 ADP. Colby Lewis (3.02 K/BB, 200.41 ADP) and Homer Bailey (3.21, 257.47) could also produce good years. Bartolo Colon didn't disappoint so much as blow all expectations away. Nobody else in your league thinks he can do it again, but his 3.37 K/BB says it wasn't just blind luck. With an ADP of 396.02, he could be a last-round pick that gives you the last laugh (You know, after the fat jokes you'll hear when you call out his name on draft day...).

Finally, these pitchers excelled in small samples (between 40 and 100IP): Kevin Slowey (6.80 K/BB, not drafted), Henderson Alvarez (5.00 K/BB, 264.70), Joe Blanton (3.89, not drafted), and Tommy Hunter (3.00, not drafted). I wanted to mention Juan Nicasio (3.22, 281.25), but I just couldn't use his name and the word "excelled" in the same sentence.

K/9

There is a bit more risk in the next set of names, but I really like strikeouts; it's the category that a pitcher has the most control over and even an otherwise bad pitcher might help by striking people out. These guys come with more risk than the K/BB specialists, as plenty of them will flame out, Daniel Cabrera-style. Erik Bedard leads the list with an 8.70 K/9 in 129 1/3 innings. His injury history and place in the Pittsburgh rotation have led him to a 244.92 ADP. He'll be good while he's around, but don't count on him for a full season. Teammate James McDonald (7.47 K/9, 295.72 ADP) is more of the flame-out type, but comes with upside.

Ryan Dempster's horrible year has him buried in most drafts (246.74 ADP), but he's only a year removed from being a solid No. 3 fantasy starter. His 8.50 K/BB would be very, very valuable if he's just a little luckier this year. Edinson Volquez hasn't lived up to his hype, but his 8.61 K/9 should play well in San Diego. His 240.49 ADP doesn't reflect his upside. Mike Minor spent the year being jerked between the Majors to the minors, but he still managed an 8.38 K/9 in 82 2/3 Major League innings. If he wins the fifth starter's job, he'll be a steal with a 243.31 ADP. Felipe Paulino (8.59 K/9, 367.07 ADP), Bud Norris (8.52 K/9, 239.16), and Vance Worley (8.13 K.9, 236.80 ADP) don't have super-high upsides, but could provide the strikeouts.

Perhaps the best choices for filling out your rotation are the guys that make it onto both of these lists. They've got their share of risks, but taking two or three could land you a very good starter late in your draft. Baker (8.22 K/9, 3.84 K/BB) and Capuano (8.13 K/9, 3.17 K/BB) should be among the top targets. Colon (7.39 K/9, 3.37 K/BB), Niese (7.89 K/9, 3.14 K/BB), Bailey (7.23 K/9, 3.21 K/BB), Peavy (7.66 K/9, 3.14 K/BB), and Lilly (7.38 K/9, 3.10 K/BB) all managed to meet both criteria. 

At the end of the draft, you're confronted with two kinds of players: risky types, and players you know will be bad. Don't settle for known mediocrity. Will any of these pitchers turn be among the top 10 at season's end? Probably not. But any number of them might still exceed your investment by a wide margin.


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Position/Role Battles: The Phillies' Left Fielder

Domonic Brown's time will come.  Phillies fans who are worried about why their consensus top prospect (and the fourth-best prospect in the sport, according to Baseball America's pre-2011 rankings) hasn't quite broken through to win a starting job with the club should remember that Brown is still just 24, and the Phillies are a team that is built to win now.  With so much uncertainty and health issues surrounding the Philadelphia lineup, the team can't just hand Brown the starting left-field job and hope that he grows into it while the Phillies are gunning for a World Series. 

This is the reason why the Phils have surrounded Brown with a number of veteran options, all of whom could end up seeing more playing time than Brown does in 2012.  The situation is very fluid, however, and Brown may well end up getting the lion's share of the starts in left as the season develops. Let's take a look at the Phillies' left-field candidates and weigh their respective fantasy values ...

Brown: Let's start at the top.  Brown has battled a thumb injury during Spring Training and has looked shaky at best defensively in shifting to left from right field. Combine this with Ruben Amaro's oft-stated preference that Brown get some more minor-league seasoning, and it seems unlikely that Brown's long-awaited impact will come this season. Brown has nothing left to prove hitting-wise in the minors, but his next term in Triple-A will be focused on shoring up his left field glove.  If everything works as the Phillies hope with their left-field platoon, they might not even need Brown until the rosters expand in September.

This said, there is no doubt Brown will get the most fantasy attention of all the Phillies' left fielders simply because it's a lot more exciting to draft a top prospect than it is to draft a journeyman. I'd let someone else bite on Brown in a mixed-league draft simply because there are more reliable outfield options out there than a player whose Major League status is such a queston mark. If Brown is still around by the last or second-to-last round, take him on a flier, but his high profile will probably mean he's gone by then, and he isn't worth a higher pick right now.

John Mayberry: I mentioned earlier about how some Phillies fans are worried about Brown because he hasn't been an All-Star from day one, and perhaps Mayberry is an example of how quickly fans can forget about a prospect.  Mayberry was taken 19th overall in the 2005 draft by Texas but never really broke through in the minor leagues and was dealt to the Phillies in 2008 in exchange for Greg Golson. Now, he's positioned to not only get the most playing time in left field but to also get time at first base while Ryan Howard recovers from injury.

Mayberry hit .273/.341/.513 in 296 plate appearances last season, boosted by a .299/.341/.604 slash line against left-handed pitching. At worst, it seems like Mayberry is a very solid platoon option and could well be able to handle an everyday job; at age 28, he's right in his prime as a hitter. He might end up more or less playing every day, anyway, due to the number of banged-up players (Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Howard) in the Phillies' starting lineup.  Mayberry and Ty Wigginton will split time at first in Howard's absence, with Jim Thome also getting some field action against righty starters, but the versatile Wigginton could be called into action at second or third if one of the Phils' other infielders needs times off.

Add it all up, and I'm pretty bullish on Mayberry's fantasy potential.  I like him as a sleeper pick for your outfield, and, as I noted earlier, Brown's higher profile may allow Mayberry to slip into the very late rounds of your draft. I can't say he'll be a consistent everyday option for the entire season given how the Phillies juggle their lineup due to injuries, but at worst, Mayberry will be a platoon player who destroys left-handers. In the best-case scenario, Mayberry plays virtually everyday and you've found yourself a 30-homer player in the 19th or 20th round of your fantasy draft.

Laynce Nix: Your classic left-handed bench option, Nix has provided a solid bat against right-handed pitching over the last few seasons. Nix signed a two-year deal with the Phillies this offseason and can provide OK defense all over the outfield, so his job is secure on the roster. I'd say the only way Nix doesn't receive semi-regular playing time this season is if Mayberry hits like a boss and forces his way into an everyday job. With this in mind, Nix is worth a last-round draft pick as an outfielder you can throw into your lineup when the Phillies are facing a right-hander. If he isn't producing after, say, four weeks, then you can release him at no real cost. If Nix does produce, however, he is a cheap power source flying under everyone's fantasy radar.

Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik: There is a tendency to group these two together simply because they're such similar players on paper. Both are left-handed singles hitters in their mid-30's (Podsednik is 35, older than Pierre by 17 months) whose games are built around their base-stealing ability, and they're both in the Phillies' camp on minor league contracts. 

I'd say the similarities end there, however, since I think Pierre is clearly the better player of the two. Pierre has been perceived as a bust simply because he didn't live up to the five-year, $44MM Dodgers contract and because Ozzie Guillen kept playing him every day in Chicago despite Pierre's declining skillset. In a limited platoon capacity, however, I think Pierre brings more to the table than Podsednik, who spent all of 2011 in the minors. Both men have roughly a 75% base-stealing percentage for their careers, but Pierre is the far more prolific base-stealer, just two years removed from a league-leading 68 steals. Pierre is also probably the better defensive option --- he has the better UZR/150 rating over the years (+4.3 to Podsednik's -1.8), though Pierre did post a -10.7 UZR/150 with the White Sox last year.

Pierre and Podsednik both have limited to no fantasy value outside of their stolen bases. One of them will be cut by the end of Spring Training, and the winner of their battle will, at best, be splitting time with Nix against right-handers.  Speed is a valuable commodity in fantasy, but it's not worth having a "quarter-platooner" on your roster.

Fantasy outlook: As I noted earlier, the Phillies' lineup is in a state of flux as the team isn't sure about the health of several key players. Utley hasn't seen any game action at all during Spring Training, as the Phils want to keep him fresh for Opening Day. Howard's potential return date of June 1 may be pushed back due to a setback with his injury rehab. Polanco had hernia surgery in the offseason and suffered a finger injury on Saturday.

If Utley and/or Polanco miss any significant time during the season, Freddy Galvis or a newly-acquired infielder would see playing time, but Wigginton is also a possibility. If Wigginton is moved off of first during the first few months of the season, Mayberry would become essentially the everyday first baseman (with Thome getting a few starts against righties), thus turning the left field platoon into Nix and Pierre/Podsednik.  All three are lefty bats, but Pierre and Podsednik are at least better against southpaws than Nix. Calling up Brown wouldn't necessarily solve this problem since he's also a left-handed hitter.

Needless to say, there's a lot more uncertainty than the Phillies would like given that their window for another World Series with this aging core group is closing. The only constant seems to be that Mayberry will be a regular part of the Philadelphia lineup, no matter if it's at first base or in left field.  That makes him the best fantasy option of the lot.



Online Draft Sleepers in Yahoo & ESPN Leagues - Hitters

Everyone that has done a live online draft knows the panic-inducing moments when you realize your time is down to 30 seconds ... 20 seconds ... 10 seconds to make your pick and you are frantically searching for a player to draft before you get stuck with the dreaded autopick. Often, that panic-induced owner ends up taking one of the players default ranked by the website near the top of the remaining players. Or, after the first 15 rounds many owners get lazy and take one of the top default ranked remaining players rather than searching for diamonds buried throughout the website's default rankings.

For these reasons, the website's default rankings oftentimes result in the ADP of a player tracking the default rankings, particularly after the first 150 picks in a draft when some owners are on auto-pilot mode taking the top default ranked remaining players. So, a good strategy is to identify players that are buried in the default rankings that may slip through the cracks of online drafts because of the website's default rankings. You can also place these players in your "queue" during the draft to avoid forgetting about them. This week we will look at hitters from free fantasy baseball providers Yahoo & ESPN that are default ranked by these websites too low and could provide draft bargains since they will not appear near the top of the list of available players sorted by default ranking (position eligibility is based on Yahoo and ESPN eligibility):

Catchers

  • Yahoo: Ryan Doumit (331) should see regular ABs as the primary DH and A.J. Pierzynski (338) gets a boost in value hitting second in the White Sox lineup. Both of these players are ranked extremely low and make nice second-catcher targets at the end of the draft.
  • ESPN: All catchers are ranked lower on ESPN than other websites, so catchers will fall in ESPN drafts. In two-catcher leagues, excellent value can be found in Buster Posey (127; compared to 75 on Yahoo) and J.P. Arencibia (274; compared to 184 on Yahoo).

First Basemen

  • Yahoo: Adam Dunn (251) has looked excellent in the spring and will be off the radar of owners following Yahoo default rankings. Gaby Sanchez (196) also makes a good target. Mat Gamel (1177) only qualifies at CI and for unknown reasons is ranked so low. Put Gamel in your "queue" for the last rounds of your draft and hope everyone forgets about him.
  • ESPN: Paul Goldschmidt (182; compared to 98 on Yahoo) and Kendrys Morales (249).

Second Basemen

Shortstops

  • Yahoo: Alexei Ramirez (149; compared to 86 on ESPN), and stash to DL immediately after draft Stephen Drew (221).
  • ESPN: Troy Tulowitzki (6; compared to 4 on Yahoo) went first in the RotoAuthority Mock Draft and I would be very happy taking him at 6. Otherwise, ESPN has its shortstops ranked high, but Zack Cozart (319) is an excellent end draft target.

Third Basemen

Outfielders


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Elite Prospect Updates: Moore, Trout, Harper

Elite prospects are always popular targets come draft day, and this year we have a trio of ultra-promising young players on the cusp of the big leagues and eager to help your fantasy team. To help you prepare for the early part of the season, here's the lastest news on each of those three players. Average Draft Positions come courtesy of Mock Draft Central.

Matt Moore, LHP, TB
ADP - 104

A mild oblique strain held the game's best pitching prospect back early in Spring Training, but Moore got into his first game action this week and struck out three of the six men he faced. Thanks to his new contract extension, the Rays have no salary or free agency-related reason to send the 22-year-old southpaw to Triple-A to start the season. Either Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis will be shifted to the bullpen to free up a rotation spot, with Niemann the favorite to remain a starter. A trade is always possible as well. There's enough time left in Spring Training for Moore to make four starts, which should give him plenty of time to properly stretch out and start the team's fourth or fifth game of the regular season. Oblique issues can be tricky though, and a setback would surely have him start the season on the DL.

I ranked Moore as the 43rd best starting pitcher in fantasy baseball a few weeks ago, but I like him quite a bit more than that. I can definitely see a Madison Bumgarner-type of performance coming in 2012, which means something like 13 wins, a 3.30 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, and 8.5 K/9. Given the tough AL East competition, I would probably take the over on the ERA though.

Mike Trout, OF, LAA
ADP - 220

Injuries are a theme in this post, but in Trout's case it's an illness. The 20-year-old told Bill Plunkett of The Orange County register that he's "feeling weak and feverish with no appetite" due to a flu-like virus which has also caused him to lose ten pounds. Trout hasn't played in close to a week now, so his already long chances of making the club out of camp have been diminished further. The Angels have a logjam of outfielders and DH-types with Mark Trumbo, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Kendrys Morales penciled into just three lineup spots (four if you're feeling generous and think Trumbo can cut it at third). Abreu and Wells are release candidates, but the latter will likely get a significant opportunity to show he's worth the $63MM left on his contract.

Trout was #59 on my list of fantasy outfielders mostly because his playing time is so uncertain. The talent is there for him to club double-digit homers with 30+ steals if given 400 plate appearances, although the high batting averages might not come right away. Fantasy owners won't benefit from Trout's above-average defense, but there's enough here to become a top ten fantasy outfielder in the near future. I just wouldn't expect it to happen this summer given the team's currect roster situation.

Bryce Harper, OF, WAS
ADP - 227

Harper has been limited by a calf issue this week, prompting him to tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that he probably won't be able to make the team out of Spring Training despite his (and manager Davey Johnson's) wishes. Still just 19, Harper has five singles and two walks in 13 at-bats this spring, and he was going to really have blow the doors off the competition to have a realistic chance to make the club. There's a open spot in the outfield calling his name and GM Mike Rizzo says he's still a candidate for the roster, but I get the sense the club is content with letting the game's best power prospect get some more time in the minors rather than throw him to the big league wolves as a teenager.

I didn't rank Harper among the game's 60 best fantasy outfielders only because I find it very hard to believe a kid that young will be that productive right away. Harper has insane power, legitimate 40 homers-a-year type of power, but no teenager has ever hit even 30 homers in a season, and only twice in the last 50 years has a 20-year-old managed 30 homers (Alex Rodriguez in 1996 and Tony Conigliaro in 1965). There figures to be a point in the not too distant future when Bryce is among the game's very players (fantasy or reality), but that probably won't happen in 2012.



Reader Leagues

If you're seeking a challenging league, joining up with other RotoAuthority readers is a great way to find one.  Please use the comments section on this post to organize leagues.


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2 After 200

Draft season is upon us, dear readers, and rather than zig, I'll zag, providing two players at each infield position I'd like to own after pick 200. For ADP, we'll be sampling from a different source, fantasypros.com, which provides average ADP from across four sites: Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS, and Fox. Mock Draft Central ADP data is not included, but you know where to find it. 

1B

Kendrys Morales: Cheating a bit here, and unless you play fantasy baseball with cave inscriptions, chances are Morales won't make it to pick 200. Morales is emerging as the value pick at 1B in 2012. We all know what he did in 2009, and he was on his way in 2010. He did experience calf tightness on Monday, but this is to be expected after he ran the bases on Sunday and Monday. His upside is tremendous. ADP 199.1. 

Adam Dunn: One and Dunn? Naw. Chalk it up to injuries, a league switch, and entropy. The guy was a machine for 7 years straight, and is only 32. Grab him at this heavily discounted rate, especially in OBP and OPS leagues. ADP 219.3.

2B

Allen Craig:  Cheating again here, as Craig is only 2B eligible in some leagues (8 GP at 2B in 2011). In 2011, Craig posted a monster triple slash of .312/.362/.555 in limited playing time (219 PA), and has three seasons of .400+ wOBA in the minor leagues. Craig makes an excellent late-round DL stash, and has begun sprinting in the OF. He should return by May 1st. ADP: 239.9. 

Jose Altuve: Pencilled in to the second spot in the order, Altuve is supremely undervalued because he plays for the Houston Astros. As a 21 year-old, Altuve posted wOBAs of .452 and .406 at High A and AA in 2011. And he can run. ZiPS loves him, and I tend to agree: .292/80/10/66/33. ADP: 241.5. 

3B

Chris Davis: Remember this guy? The Orioles aren't going to ask him to do anything but swing for the fences as their second cleanup hitter, and between the violent whiffs of Davis and Mark Reynolds, Camden Yards might just lift off into the sky. Still, Davis is eligible at 3B, and he turns 26 this Sunday. Consider Davis a post-post-post-hype sleeper. That's a double secret probation sleeper. ADP 236.8. 

Brent Morel: Morel hit for AVG in the minor leagues (.320 in 2010), and showed some power (16 HR in 2009) and speed (25 SB in 2009). He turns 25 in April, and, as several others have pointed out, posted a .329 ISO in 103 September PA. During this power surge, Morel also showed a strong eye (18 K, 15 BB). If Morel is able to sustain some semblance of this approach in 2012, you have the pick of the draft. ADP 251.0. 

SS

Zack Cozart: Also projected to hit second and fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Cozart could be a pleasant surprise in 2012. Cozart showed some speed (30 SB in 2010) and some power (17 HR in 2010) in the minor leagues, and even hit for average in 2011 (.310). Think .265/85/12/65/15, with upside for 15/25. ADP 241.5. 

Mike Aviles: It looks like the Red Sox are going to throw Aviles against the revolving door of SS in Boston, and if he sticks, nice numbers should follow. Aviles has speed, a little bit of pop, and a solid contact rate (career 85.4%). If his LD% returns to pre-2011 levels (18.8+) and he gets 550+ PA, we could be looking at a .275/75/12/70/20 season. ADP 243.3.

 

 

 


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2012 RotoAuthority Dollar Values

Every year I create a set of dollar values for 12-team 5x5 mixed leagues.  The roster positions are C, C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, MI, CI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, DH, and nine pitchers.  The scoring categories are AVG, HR, RBI, R, and SB for hitters and ERA, WHIP, W, K, and SV for pitchers.  I use a ten games played requirement for each position, and if you see in the spreadsheet that a player played 200 games at a position, it means I cheated and included the player at a position he might not yet qualify, like Jesus Montero at catcher.

This spreadsheet contains the player's name, his games played at each position, and his dollar value in this type of league.  There are some huge assumptions at work here.  First, I'm taking a guess at every player's projection.  Playing time is a major component.  If Jose Reyes gets 600 ABs he's worth $25, but if he gets 500 it's closer to $14.  If Anibal Sanchez pitches 210 innings he's worth $11, but if he pitches 170 it's more like $4.  That's why Stephen Strasburg with 138 innings is worth only $12.  If you can combine that with 60 innings from a one dollar pitcher like Tim Stauffer, Staufburg is worth roughly as much overall as David Price or Cole Hamels would give you in one roster spot.  A player like Mike Trout might not have enough projected ABs to show up in these rankings right now, but if he's playing everyday at some point this season, he definitely has value in this league.

For the projections, I made manual decisions about playing time and averaged the rates of each of the ten stats from five projection systems.  The projected stats are not in this spreadsheet, but you can make your own by using some of these:

To create dollar values, I used the standings gains points (SGP) method found in Art McGee's excellent book, How To Value Players For Rotisserie Baseball.  Unfortunately, the book is out of print and Art has no plans for a new edition.  I don't have data from thousands of leagues at hand to use for SGP denominators, and the big providers won't cough it up, which introduces another subjective element into the dollar projections.  I hope to do a better job of collecting your league data right after the season ends, to improve the 2013 dollar values.

With that lengthy explanation done, download the spreadsheet here.  To view by position, click on the filter arrow and set "greater than or equal to" to your league's games played threshold.  If you're not in the type of league described in the opening paragraph, these dollar values will not be useful or accurate.  Also, fair warning: I finished last in the RotoAuthority League in 2011.


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