Category Archives: Fantasy Baseball

First Basemen: 2010 Fantasy Projections

Last year, I professed my unabashed man-crush on Pablo Sandoval. So it’s only fitting that he’s my “value pick” at first base according to my points-per-plate appearance calibration (using statistical projections from the 2010 Bill James Handbook). Displayed in the previous link is the point breakdown in a standard points league. My approach to deciphering value is based on draft position, depth, and potential for at-bats.

Last year, for example, Joey Votto‘s projected .91 fantasy points per plate-appearance put him above annual stars like Justin Morneau (.86), Kevin Youkilis (.85), and Carlos Pena (.87). However, as we all discovered, Joey Votto didn’t live up to his potential due to injury (for more on this projection, see last year’s article).
2010’s central difference is the influx of .90 pts/pa first base-eligible batters. Last year, only 7 players satisfied this requirement: Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera, Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, and Votto. This year, however, 13 players surpass this threshold, nearly doubling the list of “effective” first base options.
Joining the seven players from 2009 in this group are Mark Reynolds (.99), Pablo Sandoval (.90), David Ortiz (.90), Adam Dunn (.90), Justin Morneau (.90), and *surprise* Chris Davis (.90).
Of the 13 players projected to average the most points per plate-appearance, I’d absolutely stay away from Chris Davis. Last year he was hyped to an ADP between the 5th and 7th rounds, an atmosphere WAY too high for a rookie… I don’t care how much he looked like Shane Spencer in his initial September call-up. In points-based-leagues, the value at this position is coming by way of Pablo Sandoval, Joey Votto, and Adam Dunn (in leagues that do not penalize strikeouts!). Pujols, Howard, Cabrera, Teixeira, and Fielder will all be gone before round two is complete in most drafts (under-statement of the century) and Berkman’s name, Morneau’s ability, and Mark Reynolds’ 2009 will be the next 1B off the board. At this point, in a standard 12-team league, four teams will be without first basemen, leaving fantasy favorites Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, Kendry Morales, and Carlos Pena available.
My advice? Let them go. Fill in the rest of your roster while the other members of your league fill up on the position. While they grab 1B, fill in your OF or pitching staff. Some will value Votto a bit more than players like Pena and Morales, but unless your peers view Sandoval as a solid 3B option, he should slip into the later rounds. Other than a brief stint on the bench with a sore back in 2009, Sandoval was one of the most reliable 1B options available.
Now comes the bad news: players to avoid based on pts/pa. I think this is the point were everyone stops expecting anything from James Loney (.76/pa). Essentially, the calibration equates him to Lyle Overbay (.75/pa)… aka, he’s useless in a points league. If he’s a singles-hitter, he needs more RBI opportunities, and with Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp on his team… he’s not going to get many.
The same can be said for Nick Swisher (.82), Russell Branyan (.82), and Michael Cuddyer (.82). Rather than spend mid-round picks on each of these streaky batters, grab a younger potential-laden player like Garrett Jones (.85) in the later rounds… especially due to his multi-position eligibility (OF/1B).
In the end, if you take anything from this 2010 first base projection, let it be that you can wait this year. In 2009, if you didn’t grab an early 1B, you were in a bad place to start the year. In 2010, you can afford to wait. As always, let your opponents make your decisions for you, it’s easier that way.

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Filed under Adam Dunn, Adrian Gonzalez, Bill James, Carlos Pena, Chris Davis, Fantasy Baseball, first base, Garrett Jones, James Loney, Joey Votto, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Reynolds, Pablo Sandoval

>Second Half Players: Aubrey Huff

>July is already halfway over is it’s time to start looking for those notorious “second-half-studs.” Scanning over the last two seasons, using OPS as my guide, I found two constants that could be had a potentially moderate price.

Aubrey Huff should be owned in all fantasy leagues. He’s not a guy who you’re going to just ‘pick up’ from waivers without giving up anything substantive. To date, Huff started out like a bat from hell in 2009. Recently, though, his numbers have been dipping. His once-.300 batting average has dipped to Elvis Andrus territory at .250, and he’s seemingly been stuck on 11 home runs forever!
Rewind to 2007, Huff slugged 8 home runs in August. On top of that, he scored 19 runs and drove in 19 RBIs of his own. His OPS was an astronomical 1.135, placing him in vintage David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, and David Wright territory.
In hopes that 2007 was not an aberration, we look to August 2008, when, you guess it, Huff clubbed 8 home runs (…again…), scored 20 runs, and drove in 26 RBIs. His 1.056 OPS, again, placed him fractions of a point away from the 2008 AL MVP, Dustin Pedroia (1.060).
Officially, I suggest you chase Aubrey Huff. He shouldn’t take much to land in a deal because he’s stumbled into the All-Star Break. The one caveat surrounding Huff is that he’s in a contract year and is highly likely to be traded within the next several weeks. If he goes to a team like the Mets or the Mariners, he’ll be hard pressed to club 8 home runs in such a huge home ballpark. That all said… I still think he’s a worthwhile investment for your team down the stretch… especially in August.

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Filed under Aubrey Huff, Fantasy Baseball, OPS, second half players

>Fantasy Man-Crush: Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval

>This one’s overdue. Up until today, there’s been one “official” Life of Brian man-crush: Nick Markakis. Today, we expand the population to two with the addition of Pablo Sandoval.

Several months ago, I drafted Sandoval hoping he would attain catcher eligibility for the Giants within the first few weeks of the 2009 season. However, much to my chagrin… catcher eligibility never came for the Kung Fu Panda… in fact, it still hasn’t arrived.
But…
I’m okay with it. Yes, it was hard for me deal with nagging groin and elbow injuries combined with bouts of the flu early on. For all the hardship Sadoval delivered early on this year, he’s paid off in dividends when healthy.
…which has been for some time now. It’s kind of hard to believe, but the 22 year-old Venezuelan is still a rookie for the San Francisco Giants. Masking this fact is Sandoval’s current (as of 7-1-2009) .338 BA, 11 home runs, and .958 OPS on the season. To give you an idea of how good that is, here’s a list of the Top-5 First basemen in BA and OPS for the season:
Batting Average (at least 250 ABs)
1. Pablo Sandoval — .338
2. Miggy Cabrera — .332
3. Albert Pujols — .332
4. Victor Martinez — .313
5. Justin Morneau — .312
On-Base + Slugging (at least 250 ABs)
1. Albert Pujols — 1.197
2. Prince Fielder — 1.034
3. Adrian Gonzalez — 1.001
4. Justin Morneau — .975
5. Pablo Sandoval — .958

I’m not going to repeat this chore for third base for one reason and one reason only: LOOK AT THE NAMES ON THESE LISTS!!! Seriously, this kid is hanging with the big boys of the most potent position in baseball.
Whether you’re starting him at first or third, Sandoval has provided “must-start” support in 2009. If someone in your league is using Sandoval as a back-up or bench-warmer… feel confident in making a move for this young man… especially if you’re in a deeper, keeper league.

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Filed under Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Fantasy Baseball, Justin Morneau, Pablo Sandoval, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez

>Weekend Update: Ryan Doumit (Rotoworld.com Error)

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I logged on to Rotoworld this morning and found an update for Ryan Doumit, reading:

“Doumit has his whole rehab process laid out, including a July 5 return. “We are very pleased with his progress,” GM Neal Huntington said last week. The catcher has been out since April 23.”

Just to be clear, the source for this blurb (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) doesn’t clearly say that Doumit is coming back to the big club on July 5th. The arctile states the following of Doumit’s return:

“As catcher Ryan Doumit’s rehabilitation schedule stands, he will report Tuesday to Pirate City for a minimum of four days of catching and designated hitting in Gulf Coast League games followed by additional at-bats in simulated games.

Doumit, after late-April wrist surgery, projects to head north July 5 for the rest of his assignment if everything works out well. Then, he would report to Class AAA Indianapolis or Class AA Altoona, both of whom play at home that day. The rest will depend upon his progress, “how he feels and how he does,” Russell said. “Once we do send him down, we don’t want him to have really a scheduled day off.”

As far as I can tell, the Post-Gazette’s sources indicate the Doumit will BEGIN a Triple-A or Double-A rehab assignment on July 5th. My best guess (as well as the best guess of many others writing about this today) is that Doumit is (as he always was) looking at an All-Star Break return.
Here’s what some Pirates’ bloggers are saying about the Doumit situation:

“Ryan Doumit will start his rehab assignment next week for the GCL Pirates. He will alternate between C and DH. The plan is then to send him to Altoona or Indianapolis On July 5th, since the Baby Bucs have an off day. Manager John Russell says, ‘Once we do send him down, we don’t want him to have really a scheduled day off'” (Northside Notch Blog).

“Ryan Doumit will start his rehab on Tuesday, and is shooting for a return just before the All-Star Break, but will probably be back right after the break” (BuccoFans.com).

And here’s a DL-based blog talking about Doumit’s looong recovery:

“RYAN DOUMIT is set to go on a rehab assignment this week and has a tentative return date of July 5. This would put him just past the original 10-week recovery period for his broken right Scaphoid (wrist) bone. The fact that he is even able to return this soon is pretty impressive, as Scaphoid fractures tend to be one of most hit-or-miss fractures as far as good healing is concerned. The surgeon who performed the procedure to stabilize the fracture must have done an exceptional job stabilizing it. Those of you who held onto this catcher who can rake will be rewarded handsomely. He was dropped in many leagues, so take a quick look to see if he’s out there – he is easily a top-ten catcher” (Disabled List Informer).

Thanks to all the above bloggers/sites for clarifying this issue. Rotoworld’s vague report will probably result in a large quantity of teams grabbing Doumit sooner than necessary. I’m not for useless moves at such a pivotal point in the season, so please take note of the several caveats revolving around Ryan Doumit.

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Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rotoworld, Ryan Doumit

>Nick Blackburn Update: Still Good

>Brief post time:

I was able to watch his game against the Brewers and noticed something: his good starts are effortless. He didn’t strike out a ton of batters (two). In fact, he was underwhelming in the strikeout department. But his fantasy owners shouldn’t be expecting that at this point. Blackburn and Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire have said repeatedly that this is a classic “pitch to contact” starter.
Looking to my last Blackburn post (Nick Blackburn is Actually Good) there may be an interesting trend starting up:
First, Blackburn pitched his second consecutive complete game. Yes, it was in loss. But Blackburn has pitched a combined 25 innings in his last three starts. For every fantasy “expert” who claims this guy should be dealt really needs to check themselves. Listening to the Twins’ announce team tonight, every member stated not only that Blackburn’s record hasn’t truly reflected how good he is… but he’s pitched BETTER than staff “ace” Kevin Slowey.
Second, Blackburn’s defense let him down BIG TIME tonight. Joe Mauer’s off-target throw into left field (over Joe Crede’s head) cost the Twins and Blackburn the win tonight. I know, I know… I praised the Twins defense in my last post… but I think that’s more the reason to buy into Blackburn. This isn’t something that will happen often.
Lastly, if there’s an owner in your league that’s looking to deal Blackburn right now, you should consider making an offer. I’m not saying this is a top-of-the-order stud, but he’s an awesome, awesome 4th or 5th starter in any league… especially when he’s facing a two-start week (LIKE NEXT WEEK!!!).
Enough of me proving myself correct for now… just a weekly “Nick Blackburn Rocking” update.

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, Kevin Slowey, Minnesota Twins, Nick Blackburn, Ron Gardenhire

>Carlos Quentin: Major League Disappointment (Continues…)

>Here’s the latest from last year’s MVP candidate via The Sports Xchange:

“We’re aware that if a relapse happens where the tendon ruptures even more, well, that’s major,” Quentin said. “That’s something that’s going to take longer, maybe even the rest of the season. So we’re thinking that if that tendon goes, that’s a two- to four-month recovery. Where we’re at in the baseball season, two-to-four really doesn’t work out as far as being able to play again this season. That’s more of the concern right now.”

Wow.  Personally, I am a horribly disappointed Carlos Quentin owner in a 12-team keeper league.  When I saw this news, my initial impulse was to throw something… hard.  Or, better yet, punch something… hard.  That impulse, however, reminded me of last season… when Carlos Quentin broke his hand in frustration…

The combination of two thoughts (the first being how much I hate Carlos Quentin and the second being my concern for my own hand) prevented me from taking any physical action.  The above is the latest in an on-going injury plagued career for such a promising young major leaguer, in Carlos Quentin.
Nearly two years ago, when I skimmed the pages of the 2008 Baseball Prospectus, I almost immediately stumbled upon the name “Carlos Quentin.”  Why?  Well, he played for the D-Backs at the time and BP is displayed in alphabetical order.  In Quentin’s bio, the guys and gals at BP noted that he had a world of talent, but was too injury prone.  The projected meager stats, and Carlos Quentin made them look silly….
…or did he?
If anything, 2009 has shown what an aberration 2008’s MVP campaign was for Carlos Quentin.  Furthermore, it displayed how scarily accurate Baseball Prospectus can be.
So… fellow Carlos Quentin owners, what’s our next step.  Well, for anyone who’s late to get on the bandwagon, Quentin is almost “drop-able.”  Yes.  It pains me to say so, but if you’re in a single-season (non-keeper) league, Quentin’s foot ailments and news of *almost* shutting it down puts him in the red-zone.  Here’s who we all should be looking at as potential replacements:
Cody Ross: In most leagues, this guy’s available.  He started off like a bat out of hell but really, really, REALLY cooled off for most of April and the early parts of May.  Over the last 5 weeks, however, Ross has averaged nearly 26 points/week in points based leagues.  Not to mention his OPS of nearly .900 during his last 15 games.  While other studs like Hanley Ramirez take over the spotlight in Miami, look for a hard-nosed break-out player in Ross to help ease the loss of someone as spectacular as Carlos Quentin.
Juan Rivera: I remember young Juan fumbling around the Yankees’ outfield in the early part of the new millennium.  While his average and arm left something to be desired, he still had that little “Ricky Ledee” in him that all Yankee fans wanted to grasp on to as a token of their championship years.  Well… Ricky Ledee’s probably warming someone’s bench right now (maybe in the independent leagues?  It’s not important enough to look up, to be blunt) and Juan Rivera is doing his best impersonation of Bernie Williams (yes, THAT Yankee favorite of the Dynasty years).  Over his last 15 games, Rivera’s OPS is in vintage Big Papi territory at nearly 1.000.  And he’s averaging around 23 points/week over his last five weeks.  Kudos to ESPN’s Matthew Berry for having such a man crush on this guy that he stuck out in my mind.  Rivera’s dominance probably will not last… but it doesn’t mean you can’t ride him into the ground, Dusty Baker-style!
Nolan Reimold: Yes, one of the many man-crushes of my blog, Reimold has done nothing but impress since his call to the bigs.  The Greenville, PA product has averaged 20/week in points based leagues–with the potential to do a bit more.   It’s hard to put all your faith in a rookie, but Reimold’s OPS of .951 over his last 15 games is enough to warrant consideration in most leagues.  Hold him as a 3rd – 4th OF for your team.  This guy has the make up of a 2nd half sleeper and may be worth it on your team’s turn-around run.

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Filed under Carlos Quentin, Cody Ross, Fantasy Baseball, Juan Rivera, Nolan Reimold

>Week 11 Update: Nick Blackburn is Actually "Good"

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I was reading an article at Sportsfrog.com a little while ago… it demanded that I trade Nick Blackburn.  Bronto, the author, suggests:

“Blackburn has benefited from a better-than average BABIP, which stood at .278 before today’s game compared to last season’s .308 BABIP. And he’s walking more hitters too. After walking just 39 last year, Blackburn has walked 25 people this season after walking just 39 in 2008.”

Yes, this is all 100% accurate.  However, with this all know, do we think anyone would be willing to deal anything for Blackburn and if so, what?  Personally, I don’t think you’re going to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes if you’re in a competitive league.  Blackburn is what he is: a nice option in mixed-leagues and a really, really good option in AL-Only leagues.

…and though everything Bronto said was accurate, I’m not ready to sell on Blackburn yet.  I look at his GB-rate and think there may be something more here.  The Twins have historically preached speed and defense to their position players.  This is blatantly obvious in the fact that the Twins lead baseball with only 24 Errors allows all year!  It’s mind-boggling, but it’s true.  With that all said, why not take a chance on a kid who’s decreasing his HR/FB rate and pitching to a better-than-50% GB rate?
My point is that Blackburn’s BABIP is so low because his GB Rate is so steady and his HR/FB is severely decreased from what it was last year.  As Brian Pietrzak suggests in his “Inside Nick Blackburn’s last five starts,” Blackburn’s reputation is a bit misleading:

“Blackburn has garnered a reputation as a “fly-ball pitcher,” especially from Twins’ announcers Bert Blyleven and Dick Bremer. However, Blackburn’s ground ball to fly ball ratio is 1.21 through his first 13 starts of 2009. As a contrast, Carlos Silva was often considered by many, including Blyleven and Bremer, to be a “sinkerball pitcher” who induced many ground balls. In his final season as a Twin in 2007, Silva had a ground ball to fly ball ratio of 1.41.”

In the end, it comes down to whether or not YOU like Blackburn.  You can find all the stats in the world to support either side as Bronto and Pietrzak deliver above.  For me, I say stick with him.  Let him ride your bench next week and throw him in for two-starts in Week 13.  Unless the Twins trade their top-flight defenders, I’d expect more of the same.

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Filed under BABIP, Fantasy Baseball, Minnesota Twins, Nick Blackburn, SABR