Thursday, February 27, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Talent: Catchers: Russell Martin, Ryan Doumit, Carlos Ruiz, Travis d'Arnaud

I've gone through the batters on my fantasy baseball roster, i'm going to go through position by position on players that are available and owned in between 10% to 49% of Yahoo leagues as of the writing of this post.

Russell Martin (19% ownership)

While his value has regressed in comparison to earlier years in his career, he can still provide some power from a position that sorely lacks it (18, 21 & 15) the last few years and he'll even throw in some stolen bases.

The risks/downsides are that defensive metrics are not counted in fantasy (his dWAR of 2.5 was his best total since 2007) and he's a liability when it comes to batting average (.237, .211, .226) the last few years. His defense was good enough that he still managed a 4.3 WAR despite putting up average offensive production (100 OPS+).

Quite frankly, he's more valuable to a real baseball team than a fantasy baseball team. His most similar player through age 30 is Benito Santiago. In his age 31 season he put up a .264/.332/.503 118 OPS+ and 30 home runs. I wouldn't put too much stock in Martin hitting 30 HRs out of nowhere as this season occurred in 1996 when 30 home run seasons seemed to be falling out of the sky.

Ryan Doumit (15% ownership)

In the past Doumit has provided some value with a little bit of power and occasionally has helped in the batting average category as well.

Even though the power numbers held up okay playing at Target Field, it appears likely that the playing time is going to be less than prior years. While he is catcher eligible this year, this could be going away in the near future as it seems like he'll be spending most of his playing time in the outfield which would further reduce his value going forward.

 Through age 32, his most similar player is Eddie Bressoud. During his age 33 season, he saw a reduction in playing time and only had a .648 OPS. I'm not sure Doumit's offensive production is going to see that sharp of a drop off (I think OPS ends up in the .700-.725 range) but wouldn't be surprised to see him only get about 300-400 plate appearances this year.

Carlos Ruiz (12% ownership)

Ruiz had a nice three year stretch from 2010-2012 where he helped in the batting average category and even helped with power slugging 16 home runs in 2012.

On the downside, his performance regressed pretty hard coming in with a .688 OPS and the one category where he was somewhat strong in batting average (.268) took a step back at an age (34) where several players see the beginning of the end.

His most similar player through age 34 is Ron Hassey. In his age 35 season, he posted a .257/.323/.368 7 HRs in 365 plate appearances. For 2014, Ruiz shouldn't be in danger of losing playing time as the Phillies don't have many viable options at catcher but don't expect him to rebound to his 2010-2012 form and it seems inevitable that he'd miss time with an injury at some point.

Travis d'Arnaud (10% ownership)

Unlike the other three catchers, d'Arnaud is largely an unknown entity when it comes to how his career will turn out.

In 31 games last year, he didn't set the world on fire .202/.286/.263 58 OPS+ but at least he showed a good eye drawing 12 walks in 112 plate appearances.

Despite this slow start, there are several people that are high on d'Arnaud. He's been on several top 100 prospect lists and he's crushed minor league pitching (OPS above .900 in the last three years). Point being, he's going to get his opportunity to prove his worth as he's done all that he can against minor league pitching.

The only question is whether he will be a legitimate contributor or if he's a 4A prospect. I think he's at least worth a late-round flyer if your filling out your bench but I think best case scenario is about 1-2 years before he'd be a top flight fantasy option at catcher.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: Chris Carter

Bench Player 3:

Chris Carter:


Carter hits for a lot of power. If your team is lacking in home runs and he is available, he is a person that can potentially help. He has enough power that he was able to pull a 112 OPS+ despite a .223 batting average. In real life, his struggles on defense led him to have a whopping 0.5 wins above replacement.


Any help he provides with home runs comes at a price. Namely, you'll need to be able to absorb a substantial hit in the batting average category if your willing to use him. Last year, I picked him up as a late round flyer but I over-reacted over a couple of bad weeks to start the season and dropped him.

Comparison Analysis:

 His most similar player through age 26 is Brian Hunter. Unlike Carter, Hunter amassed his numbers over a few more seasons as he never had more than 291 plate appearances in a given season and he had 93 plate appearances in his age 27 season. Barring injury, Carter is not going to have that fate as his power is enough for him to get a starting gig and passes for one of the better players on what is indisputably a pretty terrible Astros team.

While I think Carter only has a few seasons of full-time play his similar list is littered with players that hit for power but did not have regular starting gigs for a long time (i.e Kevin Maas, Karim Garcia) I think he gets enough playing time to put up similar numbers in 2014 to what he did last year. Due to lack of versatility in terms of how he can contribute, he's definitely on the short leash.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: Corey Hart

Bench Player 2:

Corey Hart:


He had some pretty good seasons with the Brewers with 4 seasons with an OPS+ of 120 or above, five seasons with at least 20 home runs and two seasons with at least 20 home runs.


Note that the above paragraph was written in past tense. I drafted him in the later rounds last year thinking he would be a value play after missing the first month due to injuries. Little did I know that would turn into an entire season.

Which brings me to the next point of how will Hart bounce back from missing a full year worth of action and will his bat still have the power it had in the past. Even if there is still something left in his bat, how will the numbers translate going from a hitter friendly Miller Park to a pitcher friendly Safeco Field. So yeah, Hart may go back to his old form but there are definitely some obstacles in the way.

Comparison Analysis:

His most similar player through age 30 is Bobby Higginson. In his age 31 season he played 119 games hitting .282/.345/.417 with 10 HRs & 12 Steals. After that season he played for a few more seasons but that was the last time he had an OPS+ above 100.

For Hart's season, I think he'll put up slightly lower numbers in the Average/OBP departments .270/.330 ish but he retains at least some power (around 15 homers). While not terrible numbers, you can and should be able to get a lot more out of the first base position. For that, Corey Hart should be on the short leash.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: Victor Martinez

Bench Player 1:
Victor Martinez:


 Last year, Martinez came back from missing the 2012 season and showed that he could be a healthy player (159 games played) and be productive (111 OPS+)


While Martinez showed he can still be productive, his value in terms of fantasy is lower than it was in the past. At this point, he's primarily seeing action as a DH (he played at first 11 games last year and 3 times as catcher).

Based on position eligibility rules in the league your in, this can impact how much of an asset Martinez is. In the league i'm in , he has eligibility at first base but not catcher. While his numbers from last year .301/.355/.430 14 HRs would make him fairly valuable out of the catcher position, there are plenty of other options at first base who are capable of putting up better numbers.

Comparative Analysis:

Through age 34, his most similar player is Rich Aurilia. In his age 35 season, his offensive production was already going downhill .252/.304/.368 73 OPS+. He then followed that up with a couple more below average seasons before retiring. While I think the end of Martinez's career is coming sooner rather than later I still think he has another productive season or two before the offensive production falls off.

I think he'll serve as a decent fill-in if your regular first baseman has the day off but there are better options in the starting first base role. If Martinez ends up getting more time at Catcher at this point this season, that could make his spot on fantasy rosters safer. For the time being, he's on the short leash

All numbers used found on

Friday, February 21, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: Eric Hosmer

Starting Utility 2:

Eric Hosmer:


 Hosmer is still young (24) and appears to have all the potential in the world and could possibly be a huge star. He has three seasons under his belt and put up decent production (118 OPS+) in two of those seasons. While not the perfect fantasy player, Hosmer will likely put up decent batting average (assuming he doesn't regress to 2012 form) numbers and throw in some double-digit stolen base numbers which are especially valuable from the first base position.

As the Royals appear to be on the upward trend, there's a chance that could help Hosmer get some more RBI opportunities and thus more RBIs for fantasy players.


While he's shown flashes of his potential, he hasn't quite performed up to what you would expect from somebody that was drafted third overall. While he does have some power, the 15-20 HR range he has displayed so far is slightly less than what you'd expect from an upper tier first baseman.

Comparative Analysis: 

His closest comparison through age 23 is Vic Saier. Before writing this up, I had never heard of Vic Saier. I guess this means I have to brush up on my 1910s baseball history. While Saier's career came to an early end (he played his last game at 28). His age 24 season was productive for the era .264/.350/.445 11 HRs.

If Hosmer were to put up those numbers this year, he would be one of the bigger fantasy baseball busts. However, in 1915 11 home runs was considered a lot of power and the above slash line was good for an OPS+ of 140.

The thing I glean from this is while I don't think he'll put up top five production and impact the outcome of fantasy leagues I do think that he will continue to improve and get his home run total up to the 20-25 home run range.

All numbers found on

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: Jean Segura

Starting Utility Player 1:

Jean Segura:


Segura is still very young (24 by opening day) and in theory should continue to get better as he gains more experience. His blistering hot start to the 2013 season was one of the few bright spots in what was otherwise a forgettable Brewers seasons. Within those couple of months, it was made very clear that the Brewers were resounding winners in the Zack Greinke trade.

In a position with scarce offensive resource, Segura provided good returns in average and is also a strong asset in the stolen base category. This should continue in 2014 as he has a manager in Ron Roenicke that will give runners the green light to steal bases (which frustrates me at times as a fan but should be helpful to people with Segura on their fantasy team).


While Segura was really, really good in the first half, he was really, really bad in the second half, like .583 OPS bad. While they say speed never goes in a slump, the entire second half like this does raise some red flags on whether part of last year's performance is sustainable going forward and if the league figured out Segura and his aversion to taking walks (25 in 623 plate appearances last year). His minor league track record indicates that he may have overachieved in the power department but this could be a case of power developing as he gets older.

I'm confident that the stolen bases should still be there but the home run production is likely to be in the 6-8 range and I think the batting average drops off somewhat.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar player through age 23 was Lonny Frey. I'm not sure what precedent reviewing players from the 1930s relates to today's world but he did have a solid age 24 season .262/.352/.437 112 OPS+ 11 HRs so maybe there is hope that his bad second half was just a slump and not a preview of things to come.

Frey may have not put up superstar numbers after the age of 23 but he did have a decade worth of production in him. If Segura puts up an average around .280 and has similar power, OPS+ numbers I would be relatively happy both as a fantasy owner and fan. Still, as the season starts Segura is definitely going to be on the short leash.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: Michael Brantley

Starting Outfielder 3:

Michael Brantley:


Brantley is approaching the late 20s age where players start to hit their peak and his performance has improved incrementally over the last few seasons. He was part of the haul of prospects that the Brewers sent to Cleveland to get CC Sabathia and help get the Brewers to the playoffs for the first time since I was alive. He looks to contribute a little bit of everything (average, steals and even the occasional home run).


While he will fill up the fantasy scoring sheet somewhat, he's not exactly a star. While there is a possibility of a breakout season around the bend, nothing in this game is guaranteed.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar player through age 26 is Frank Welch. In his age 27 season he only played 85 games and hit .277/.373/.401. Brantley appears to be on a different trajectory and this projection is likely weighed down by earlier seasons where he underachieved. While Brantley is probably on a short leash as the season starts, there are things that seem promising.

He's stayed healthy the last couple seasons (playing about 150 games a year), he's posted two above average seasons offensively and he's coming off his first season of hitting double-figure home runs (albeit at 10). If he can hold steady on the average and stolen base totals and push his home run total towards 15 he could be a good lower end option for fantasy owners.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: Jayson Werth

Starting Outfield #2:

Jayson Werth:


Ahh, the wonders of baseball-reference. Where else can you find out that there is a pro baseball player out there that goes by the name Werewolf in Twitter. Werth is coming off a very strong year and players that had him saw boosts in batting average, decent power (25 homers) and even a little bit of speed (10 stolen bases).


He's getting old (turns 35 in May) hasn't been particularity healthy the last couple of seasons (81 games played in 2012 & 129 last year). While last year's home run totals are within line with what he's done (except for 2012), banking on a repeat of his all around performance from 2013 may not be the best idea as he's coming off his best season and his OPS for his career is 94 points lower than it was for his career. He's been sub-replacement level defensive wise the last five seasons which could cost him playing time if he struggles even a little bit.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar player through age 34 is Trot Nixon. If that parallel continues (which it won't) 2014 would be a disaster for Werth as Nixon's age 34 season was his last (11 games of sub-par production) while Werth is coming off his best season. I think Werth will put decent power numbers but the batting average is unlikely to stay above .300 again. Also, there is a realistic chance that I may need to find a replacement at some point due to injury.

While his job in my starting line up is there for now and he'll likely put up decent numbers, there are enough things to worry about that i've gotta keep an eye on what other outfielders are out there that can help this team win.

Players that got added to the watch list:

Alejandro De Aza
Will Venable
Jon Jay
Denard Span
Gerardo Parra
Rajai Davis

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Safe: Mike Trout

Starting Outfielder 1:

Mike Trout:


Where to start, Trout is only one of the more exciting players in the game today and on the fast track to be one of the greatest players of this generation. He is an absolute monster (in a good way) in all categories. He's led the AL in Runs Scored the last two years, he will give you power, speed and batting average (and he also led the league in walks giving him a nice .432 OBP). And he doesn't even turn 22 until August. Since most players hit their peak in their last 20s its almost mind blowing how good Trout will likely be once he gets some more playing experience under his belt.

I know highlight reel catches aren't a fantasy baseball category but they add to the growing legend of Mike Trout. Even the one statistical weakness from 2013 (-0.9 dWAR) is a bigger indictment on the general state of evaluating defensive performance than anything wrong with his game.


There seem to be no real downsides to his game. It looks like Trout and his agent are working towards what will be a likely lucrative extension that may distract him from only being uber-awesome instead of uber-ultra awesome. Also, he's starting doing commercials such as Subway so maybe in like 15 years he'll be in the Peyton Manning zone where people are all like is he just that dude from all those commercials. Since, i'm going to hypotheticals on the Cons side, there appears to be no downside.

Comparison Analysis:

His most similar player through age 21 is hall of famer Frank Robinson. He had a very strong age 21 season .322/.376/.529 29 HRs and had several more great seasons. Out of his most similar batters through age 21, seven of them are in the hall of fame. Bottom line is that Mike Trout seems to be on the fast track to Cooperstown and anyone with him on their fantasy team already has an advantage over their competition.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: Ian Desmond

Starting Shortstop:

Ian Desmond:


Desmond is one of the emerging shortstop stars in this league. He is coming off two consecutive 20-20 seasons, hits for a decent average (even if his lack of walks leads to a mediocre OBP) and he's part of what should be a stronger Nationals line up which should give him plenty of RBI opportunities. Especially where home runs are in short supply at his position, Desmond should be a valuable fantasy asset in 2014.


I had him on some of my teams in 2010-2011 when expectations were high and before he started to hit his stride.

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar player through age 27 is Stephen Drew. His age 28 season was not very good as he had a .252/.317/.396 and 5 HRs in 86 games. Still, I think Desmond's future is brighter and I think the caliber of top similar player is dragged down by his first two seasons.

Desmond has established that his ability to perform strongly is not a fluke as he's already had two strong seasons and looks like he's starting to hit his peak. Considering this and the lack of quality shortstops out there, Desmond's job is very safe and thus no shortstops were added to the watch list.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: David Wright

Starting Third Baseman: 

David Wright:


Wright is one of the better and more established Third Basemen in baseball. He can always be counted on for consistent production and he's been hitting very well every since starting his career in 2004 (lowest OPS+ he's had in a season is 115) and he's had four seasons with a WAR above 5.


He's missed decent chunks of time because of injuries in two out of the last three seasons (102 games in 2011 & 112 games in 2013). Playing for what is likely to be a mediocre Mets team, RBI opportunities may be limited. There's a chance injury issues could increase over time as he gets older (currently he's 31).

Comparative Analysis:

His closest comparable through age 30 is Scott Rolen. While Rolen was injury prone himself, his age 31 season was relatively healthy (142 games) and very productive .887 OPS along with 22 HRs and a .296 batting average. With a full season of health I think Wright would do slightly better than those numbers.


David Wright's spot for fantasy baseball is definitely very safe. However, the last few years of his health track record I probably need to keep an eye on the third baseman scene just in case. Yeah, I could get flexible and move Brett Lawrie or Edwin Encarnacion over to third if I had to but that could always open up other issues to solve. Looking at the quality of available third basemen, if  I need to consult this watch list for a replacement, the team could be in trouble.

Third Basemen Added to the Watch List:

Matt Dominguez
Trevor Plouffe
Jose Iglesias
Conor Gillaspie

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Safe or Short Leash: Brett Lawrie

Starting Second Baseman:

Brett Lawrie:


A lot of people think he's going to be really, really good someday. He is very young (24) so in theory he should be getting better and better. He has some position flexibility (also eligible at third base) if he needs to be moved around the line-up. He's played pretty well defensively in his 275 major league games. He has hit double figure home runs and is eligible at second base which doesn't have that many power options. As a former Brewers minor league player, he was part of the trade that allowed the Brewers to get a couple solid years out of Shaun Marcum which helped get the Brewers to the playoffs a couple years ago.


He has yet to fulfill the potential everyone says he has nor play more than 125 games in a season. He has struggled to stay healthy. He has posted slightly below average OPS+ totals the last couple seasons. He has yet to fulfill said potential to be a great player that everybody has.

Comparison Analysis:

His most similar player through age 23 is Andy Carey. In his age 24 season, Carey struggled badly getting a .649 OPS and finishing with a 97 OPS+. While I think Lawrie is a shoo-in to put up better numbers than that for both 2014 and his career, I'm not quite sure he's a shoo-in to spend the entire season with a starting gig on my fantasy team.

Safe or Short Leash:

As the season starts, he's going to be on a short leash.  I think he's a better player than the player on the top of his comparison list. However, he has yet to put together a complete season and it seems like he'll get injured at some point which makes it likely that i'll have to keep an eye on other available second basemen out there.

Second Baseman Added To The Watch List:

Kelly Johnson
Nick Franklin
Omar Infante
Jordy Mercer
Anthony Rendon
Scooter Gennett

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Keep or Cut, In This Case Definitely Keep: Edwin Encarnacion

Starting First Baseman:

Edwin Encarnacion:


The last couple years, he has absolutely CRUSHED pitching and has two consecutive seasons of 35+ Home Runs even when 35+ Home Run Seasons are becoming less common. Even before the last couple seasons he had some pop in his bat but it took him awhile to be the veritable force that he has been the last couple of seasons. He's even thrown in a little bit of speed, stealing 20 bases over the last couple of seasons.


The seven years before 2011, he was a decent hitter capable of hitting about 20 out but wasn't a highly valuable fantasy baseball asset during those years. When he get traded to the Blue Jays, I was relieved that he was out of the NL Central because he always seemed to crush Brewers pitching. Defensively, he has been sub-replacement level for a long time which could eventually force him into being a DH. Also, he's on the wrong side of 30 (31).

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar hitter through age 30 is Torii Hunter. During his age 31 season (2007), Hunter busted out a .839 OPS and threw in 28 Home Runs and is still an above average performer several years later (even if his power numbers are slowly declining.


This one is pretty obvious, Encarnacion is a keeper. It may have taking awhile for his bat to become a force but he has proven that his strong performance hasn't been a fluke. While he may not be a household name such as Fielder or Goldschmidt Since I have four other players with first base eligibility, adding anyone at first base on to my watch list would be counter-productive.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Keep or Cut: Miguel Montero

At this point, i've basically gone far enough down the list of free agents to the point where people I would be discussing are getting less and less likely to see regular playing time or to make an impact.

Last week, Yahoo opened up their Fantasy Baseball feature for the year. This year, i'm going to be in a couple leagues. The main one that i'll mostly be discussing during the regular season is one that I got invited to play in with my friend Diego.

The other one is one that I let Yahoo auto-draft for me (yeah I know, lame) but i'm using it to primarily study up on players (and to have baseball to write about). I'm going to go through one of the players on this team at a time, up first

Starting Catcher:

Miguel Montero:


He has hit double figure home runs in the last three seasons (in a position where there isn't much power), He has a good eye at the plate (even if OPS isn't considered a traditional fantasy stat) and he has four seasons of above average production at the plate.


He's coming off his worst season offensively since 2007. After hitting .230 last year, there is the real possibility that his batting average could hurt fantasy wise and he's only played in 130+ games twice in his career indicating a reasonable possibility of having to scrounge the waiver wire for a replacement at some point. He would have more value 

Comparative Analysis:

His most similar batter through age 29 is Ramon Hernandez. My main memory of Ramon Hernandez is of him hitting a walk-off home run against John Axford on opening day of the 2011 season. While Hernandez is now a back up with no fantasy value, he had decent value in his age 30 season (2006). In that year, he had a career high in Home Runs (23) played in the most games of his career (144) and had an 111 OPS+. Certainly not a star player numbers but I would be very happy to get similar numbers from Montero.

Keep or Cut:

For now, i'm going to keep Miguel Montero. I came into this not sure whether or not I would. I think that he'll have a nice bounce back season in 2014 but i'm going to keep an eye on some of the other available catchers just in case.

Catchers that i've added to the watch list in the event that Montero gets hurt or struggles:

Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Yan Gomes
Travis d'Arnaud
Mike Zunino
Devin Mesoraco
Josmil Pinto

Monday, February 3, 2014

Meet the Unsigned Free Agents: Jose Valverde, Rick Ankiel, Laynce Nix

Before getting started, wanted to wish my wife Heather a happy six months since the day we got married :)

As we get past the Super Bowl and inch closer to baseball season, i'm also inching closer to discussing the unsigned free agents out there as this one will have one pitcher & some available hitters that are still available.

Jose Valverde:

Where He's Been:

In the bullpen, serving as designated ninth-inning pitcher for much of his career and doing a good job for the most part (138 Career ERA+), 2013 wasn't as kind to him as he struggled in 20 appearances for the Tigers until getting released in August.

What 2014 Has In Store:

At this point, not very bright prospects. Not to say that he is done but things aren't looking very bright after a down season and his age (35) doesn't help. Still he's not that far away from having a success (185 ERA+ in 2011).

Comparison Analysis:

His closest comparison through age 35 was Troy Percival. After age 35, he pitched three more years (one very strong year and two very medicore ones. This may be overly optimistic for the rest of Valverde's career. While recent success may indicate there is a really good season left in there, my guess is that his best days have come and gone.

Rick Ankiel:

Where He's Been:

He's pretty much seen it all he starting out as a super-promising pitcher before control issues derailed that part of his career. However, he had enough pop in his bat that he was able to continue his career as an outfielder where he even had a couple good seasons (2007 & 2008). Since then, he's bounced from team to team, hit a few home runs but hasn't been a good enough all-around hitter to stick around in one place for an extended period of time.

What 2014 Has In Store:

For 2014, bouncing around from team to team sounds more like a best-case scenario. Before the calendar hit June, he got released by two teams (Astros & Mets) that are not very good. There is a high possibility that we may have seen the last of Ankiel as a player.

Comparison Analysis:

Through age 33, his closest comparable is Greg Norton.  After turning 33, he had a few seasons  of playing part time but wasn't that particularly effective. Even a scenario like this seems a bit optimstic.

Laynce Nix:

Where He's Been:

Primarily serving as a back up outfielder whenever someone needs a backup with a little bit of pop in their bat (most recently in Philly).

What 2014 Has In Store:

His season came to an end early as he was released in August. He's 33, coming off a terrible season (34 OPS+) and couldn't keep a back up role on a team that was well out of contention. There's a good chance his career could be done.

Comparison Analysis:

Ironically, his most comparable player through age 32 is Rick Ankiel. Last year (which saw him get released twice) was his age 33 season. It seems fitting that both of these players careers appeared to have reached their end.