Monday, March 31, 2014

3.31 Random Sampling: Night Games Edition

Giants vs Diamondbacks (Bumgarner vs. McCarthy)

The Giants are looking to bounce back from a subpar season, though they did go 1-0 in Games that I attended. The Diamondbacks are already 0-2 and 1.5 games out of first due to the results of their first two games in Australia.

Angels vs. Mariners (Weaver vs. Hernandez)

The Angels may have one of the most dynamic players in the game in Mike Trout but haven't cracked the playoffs in a few years. The Mariners have an absolute ace in Felix Hernandez and spent the winner trying to surround him with a better team. For both of these teams, getting past the Rangers & A's is going to be easier said than done

Indians vs. Athletics (Masterson vs. Gray)

The Indians got a small taste of playoff action, losing to Tampa Bay in the play-in game last year and are hoping to challenge the Tigers stranglehold on the AL Central. The A's are looking to stay ahead of the curve in the loaded AL West and get their third straight division title. The Rangers may look better on paper but it is dangerous to under-estimate the A's.

3.31 Random Sampling: Day Games Edition

Baseball Season Is Here!!!! Time for some games that count!!!! New feature that i'm going to do is preview a "random" sampling and by random I mean games involving players on my fantasy team that are in my starting line up. Off we go....all times listed are Pacific Standard Time...all numbers, references listed found on

10:08 Royals vs. Tigers (Shields vs. Verlander)

For the Royals their goal this year is to prove that finishing above .500 last year was no fluke and to make some noise and possibly contend for playoff spot. The Tigers are looking to get back to the playoffs and win their first World Series in 30 years.

10:10 Nationals vs. Mets (Strasburg vs. Gee)

These two teams may be in the same division of the NL East but their expectations are significantly different. The Nationals under achieved last year. Considering that even under achieving, they were still a respectable team and that they got even stronger during the off-season, they start the season as legitimate title contenders.

The Mets have had several disappointing seasons  lately and there's not much that indicates that this year is going to be much different.

11:10 Brewers vs. Braves (Gallardo vs.Teheran)

The Brewers are coming off a disappointing 2013 season. They should be better this year as (hopefully) they won't have problems with injuries, (hopefully) the drama behind Ryan Braun's suspension is behind us and (thankfully) Yuniesky Betancourt is nowhere near the starting lineup.

The Braves were able to take advantage of the Nationals disappointing season by winning the NL East. While it is unlikely they will repeat, I still think they are good enough to contend for a wild-card spot.

1:10 Blue Jays vs. Rays (Dickey vs. Price)

The Blue Jays basically got all the players that led to the Marlins underachieving in 2012 and contributed to the Blue Jays underachieving in 2013. I think the Blue Jays have similar results in 2014 without the whole everyone thinks they are a contender part. The Rays, what they don't have in payroll, they make up for in strong under the radar moves and one of the smartest managers in the game. Until proven otherwise, the Rays are a regular contender in my eyes.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Worth An Add or Not: Dillon Gee, Erasmo Ramirez

One new feature/angle that i'm planning on occasionally going to do this season is look at the Transaction Trends (per Yahoo's figures) and evaluate whether some of the players that are trendy in terms of being added to people's fantasy teams are worth the hype:

Gee is in line to be the opening day starter for the Mets this year. One advantage Gee has is that he plays in a stadium that isn't offense friendly which does allow for his era to be a bit lower. Even with a decent era last year (3.62) he still came in with a 98 ERA+.

One thing that people appear to be banking on is that his strong spring (1.08 ERA/0.9 WHIP in 16 2/3 innings) is the precursor to a breakout season. He is at the age (27) where having a breakout season is more likely and he does have enough experience (502 1/3 career innings) where maybe he can outsmart hitters if he doesn't have his best stuff to go from a decent starting pitcher to a pretty impressive one.

The red flags that could prevent that is that he is prone to giving up homers (6th in the NL last year). The key is whether he can resolve that. His most similar pitcher through age 27 (Joe Cowley) did not do good after that age making five very forgettable appearances at age 28.

While I think Gee has a better future than that, i'm still selling in towards of value. Besides the homers, his strikeout totals aren't inspiring (6.6 per 9 career) and playing on a Mets team expected to be terrible, his win totals could be suppressed.

Erasmo Ramirez:

Another pitcher who has seen his value improve due to a dominating spring. He's pitched a couple partial seasons with one of them being good (2012) and the other one not so much (2013). The key for Ramirez is going to be to cut down on Homers (12 in 72 1/3) and walks (3.2).

One thing in his corner is that he is still very young (23) and logically should improve over the next few years. His most similar pitcher through age 23 is Rube Marshall. While he only had one more season (of below average performance), there are a couple of successful pitchers on his top ten similars through age 23 (Doug Drabek, A.J. Burnett & Jack Morris).

While I think Ramirez is on track to have a successful career, I think he still has a couple of average to slightly below average seasons ahead of him before turning the corner. For this year i'd sell on his value and would only buy on value for keeper leagues.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Eric Young, Dee Gordon, Grady Sizemore,

Eric Young (33%)

In terms of producing fantasy value, Eric Young is the definition of a one category player. In 2013, he led the national league in stolen bases while producing negligible value in any other offensive category. If your desperate for the stolen bases consider him but even with value in one category, there's better options out there.

Through age 28, his most similar player is Adrian Brown. From age 29 on, he played 39 games. If anything else, Young at least looks on track to receive regular playing time. With a career 76 OPS+ the question is how much longer can he find regular playing time with sub-par offense paired with sub-replacement level defense.

Dee Gordon (28%)

During his career, Gordon has displayed impressive speed and able to pick up some stolen bases when he was in the starting lineup. The same can't be said about his offense (72 OPS+). If your picking him up, the two things you would also be banking on is some modest improvement offensively and that he will hit well enough to keep himself in the starting lineup.

His most similar player through age 25 is Pat Meares. After turning 25, he did log seven more years in the majors. While he did show some pop in his bat with a few double figure home run seasons, he never had an OPS+ above 100.

Grady Sizemore (24%)

Sizemore is back after missing a couple seasons, winning a spot on the Red Sox roster. From 2005-2008 he would be a must-have with a nice balance of average/obp, power and speed. The question remains is how much of that form is still there?

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Jose Quintana, James Paxton, Hector Santiago, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando

Jose Quintana (23%)

The White Sox may have had a terrible season, but you can't blame it on Quintana. He quietly made 33 starts and put in 200 innings of solid work (122 ERA+). Since wins is still a major category in fantasy and things outside his control (playing on a bad team) kept his win total in single figures (9), his contributions still fell under the radar. If things break right, he could be a possible fantasy breakout star in 2014.

Through age 24, his closest comparison is Noah Lowry. Lowry seemed on track to have a decent career. He had a couple of productive seasons after his age 24 season before his career abruptly ended due to injury. While that is always a risk with pitching, I think Quintana is on track to have a solid career as a #2/#3 starter.

James Paxton (17%)

When all is said and done this year, Paxton will likely be owned in more than 17% of leagues if everything breaks right. He got four starts towards the end of the year and pitched very well and that momentum appears to have continued as he's had a solid spring.

Even with that, he's a moderately ranked prospect (#68 by baseballprospecuts). He did strike out a lot of batters in the minors but was also very hittable in AAA (1.48 WHIP). At this point, i'd be cautiously optimistic about Paxton but his owners will need to pay attention/react quickly to any signs of trouble.

Hector Santiago (14%)

Another potentially decent low end option who had his value suppressed by a horrible White Sox team. In 34 games (23 starts) Santiago struck out 8.3 per 9 innings and had a nice 120 ERA+ though he only won 4 games. His value should increase for reasons beyond his control as he ended up on the Angels in the three team trade that sent Mark Trumbo to Arizona.

Speaking of control, that could be the one thing that decreases his value and something that will need to be addressed for sustained success. He was 10th in the AL in Walks and had a 1.40 WHIP.

One encouraging note is that he has pitched well in four spring starts and has displayed a strong 3.1 SO/BB ratio (small sample size alert) compared to a career total of 1.93.

His most similar player through age 25 is Jim Roland. After his age 25 season, Roland had a few solid seasons out of the bullpen pitching primarily in relief.

Drew Hutchison (13%)

Hutchison got his first taste of the show last year, making 11 starts and coming in with a 92 ERA+. Based on his spring numbers. At the very least, he'll give you some cheap strike outs (7.5 per 9 last year). If you take stock in spring training performance, he could be a sleeper as he's struck out 16 in 9 2/3 and has a .828 WHIP.

Looking at his minor league performance, he is a bit under the radar (never been on any top 100 prospect lists) and he didn't pitch that well in the minors. While there is potential as a good low end option, if you pick him up, you may need to react quickly if he has a couple of bad starts in a row.

Martin Perez (11%)

Perez had his first extended look last year and did relatively well in 20 starts (114 ERA+). He's still very young (22) so he definitely has room to get better. One thing that may help is if he develops more on the strikeout side (6.0 per 9 IP career).

His most similar player through age 22 is Floyd Bannister. He struggled in his age 23 season (69 ERA+) but he did go on to have a decent starting pitcher though not a star with four of his seasons with an ERA+ in the 120s. Does that indicate that last year's performance is close to as good as we can expect out of Perez or is it a preview of things to come?

Alexi Ogando (10%)

For Ogando, its not a matter of whether he's going to be productive, (139 ERA+ in 381 innings). Its a matter of a) Is he going to stay healthy? and b) If so, is he going to be a starter where he can be of value or is he going to be in the bullpen while valuable for his team, this would reduce his value in fantasy?

If Ogando does start the season in the rotation, he could be a good hidden gem as he has pitched very well regardless of the role he plays. Through age 29, his most similar player was Murry Dickson. After his age 29 season, he had several solid seasons as a starter and ended up playing until he was 42.

Will Ogando play until his 40s? More likely than not. Does he have more valuable and productive seasons ahead of him (2014 included)? most likely.

All numbers, comparisons, etc found on

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Yordano Ventura, Jarrod Parker, Rick Porcello, Bronson Arroyo, Archie Bradley

Yordano Ventura (42%)

A very strong sleeper pick. He made three starts last year and had a 3.52 ERA/120 ERA+ in 15 1/3 innings. Monday night, I managed to listen to a couple innings of the Royals-Rangers spring training game as I was washing dishes and from the sound of it, Ventura was putting in a very impressive performance, impressive enough for him to get a spot in the Royals starting rotation.

His prospective star is very high right now (#12 prospect per and he pitched very well in the minors between AA & AAA 3.14 ERA & 155 K's in 134 innings (though the WHIP was a little high at 1.27.)

For 2014, I think he's a solid back end pick and can help you out if you need an extra strikeout boost.

Jarrod Parker (30%)

Parker's season is done before it even starts as he's having Tommy John Surgery. If you haven't dropped him yet, don't forget to do so.

Rick Porcello (27%)

The one area in Fantasy that Porcello has done okay in is racking up wins (at least 10 in every year's he's pitched). When your one plus area is the one that you have the least control over, the fantasy value is on highly shaky ground (at best). His ERA has been north of 4 the last four seasons. One encouraging thing is that his strike out totals have gotten better (7.2 per 9 last year). There is hope that maybe, he's on the right path (he is still only 25).

His most similar pitcher through age 24 is Brett Myers. At age 25 he had his best season to date as starter 3.91 ERA/120 ERA+ and 189 K's. There is a small chance Porcello could have a similar styled breakthrough this year but more likely he'll be a very average pitcher.

Bronson Arroyo (23%)

Arroyo ended up with a 2 year, 23.5 million dollar deal with Arizona. While Arroyo has proven that he can be a productive pitcher playing in an offense friendly ballpark and giving up lots of home runs, it's still not the best case scenario. Still, he somehow makes it work. If he can stay consistent and keep his ERA in the 3.75 range and if he can get enough support to get a dozen wins, he could be a good bench option on your team.

Archie Bradley (23%)

If Arroyo falters, maybe Archie Bradley gets a chance to step up in Arizona. He's very young (21) but he has a lot of potential. Per, Bradley is the #9 prospect and AA hitters learned that the hard way last year as he rocked a 1.97 era and 8.7 K/9.

There are short-term question marks as he's never pitched above AA. However, if he does end up in the bigs and you need some strikeouts, Bradley could be a good fit. If he's on a big league roster this year, I think he'll have some struggles but he could become one of the league's better pitchers within 4-5 years.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WhatIf March Madness Mock Up

Time to take a brief diversion from baseball to give some computer generated predictions on what's going to happen in March Madness. Over at What If Sports they did their March Madness preview. However, since they simulate theirs a bunch of times it does take out a lot of the randomness that we've come to know in March.

Since the site gives the ability to simulate match ups one by one, I took the bracket and did one off simulations from the Round of 64 through the title game. Here is what happened:


Florida over Albany
Pittsburgh over Colorado
VCU over Stephen Austin
Tulsa over UCLA
Ohio State over Dayton
Syracuse over Western Michigan
New Mexico over Stanford
Kansas over Eastern Kentucky

The biggest upset here was Tulsa winning the 13-4 match up as Steve Alford continues to disappoint in the tourney.

Pittsburgh over Florida
VCU over Tulsa
Syracuse over Ohio State
Kansas over New Mexico

In my actual bracket, I had Florida winning the title. However, this doesn't happen here as they get upset by a Pittsburgh team that was struggling to beat high level competition all year.

VCU over Pittsburgh
Syracuse over Kansas

We nearly had ourselves a rematch of the Elite 8 match up from 2011 when VCU beat Kansas to reach the Final Four

VCU over Syracuse

In this scenario, VCU's havoc system gets a return trip to the Final Four


Virginia over Coastal Carolina
George Washington over Memphis
Cincinnati over Harvard
Michigan State over Delaware
Providence over North Carolina
Iowa State over NC Central
St. Josephs over UConn
Villanova over Milwaukee

Out of the four regions, this was the least crazy first round bracket. Yes, there were a few minor upsets but all of them came from conferences with multiple teams in the tourney (Providence, George Washington, St. Josephs)

Virginia over George Washington
Michigan State over Cincinnati
Iowa State over Providence
Villanova over St. Josephs

The Round of 32 went all chalk.

Virginia over Michigan State
Villanova over Iowa State

As did the Sweet 16, guaranteeing that two teams in the final four will start with the letter V.

Villanova over Virginia


Arizona over Weber State
Gonzaga over Oklahoma State
North Dakota State over Oklahoma
New Mexico State over San Diego State
Baylor over Nebraska
Creighton over UL-Lafayette
Oregon over BYU
Wisconsin over American

The top two seeds barely survived upsets and we saw a couple small conference schools (North Dakota State & New Mexico State pull off upsets)

Arizona over Gonzaga
North Dakota State over New Mexico State
Baylor over Creighton
Wisconsin over Oregon

Got ourselves three BCS programs and one Cinderella team looking to make noise

North Dakota State over Arizona
Baylor over Wisconsin

#12 over #1 upset in the Sweet Sixteen...can they continue this magic into the final four?

Baylor over North Dakota State



Wichita State over Cal Poly
Kentucky over Kansas State
St. Louis over NC State
Louisville over Manhattan
Tennessee over UMass
Mercer Over Duke
Arizona State over Texas
Wofford over Michigan

The first half of the bracket played to form. The second part, went all out crazy as the 10, 11, 13 & 15 all advance. In addition, Coach K gets humbled a bit as he gets upset by Mercer in the first round and ends up with less wins (0) than teams the Atlantic 10 gets into the Final 4 (1).

Wichita State over Kentucky
St. Louis over Louisville
Mercer over Tennessee
Wofford over Arizona State

Wichita State continues to take care of business while we have ourselves a 13/15 match up in the Sweet Sixteen

Wichita State over St. Louis
Mercer over Wofford

Wichita State comes one step closer to perfection, Mercer comes one step closer to outdoing conference mates Florida Gulf Coast for greatest Cinderella run of all time. Will they get it done in this mock up.

Mercer over Wichita State

YES. Wichita State did handle a couple quality opponents (Kentucky & St. Louis) but did not survive the anarchy portion of the bracket which gave us a 13 seed in the final four


VCU over Villanova
Baylor over Mercer

Baylor over VCU

So we get ourselves a 5, 2, 6 & 13 seed in the final four and under this simulation, Baylor wins its first national title. Will we get anything resembling this crazyness over the next few weeks? We'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Michael Pineda, Josh Johnson, Matt Harvey, Derek Holand, Kyle Lohse

Michael Pineda (47%)

Definitely one of the wild cards/unknowns as we approach baseball season. Pineda had a promising 2011 before being traded to the Yankees where he has gone on to.....miss the last two seasons.

Assuming Pineda stays healthy (a big if), he should be in line for a regular rotation spot and at least get innings. It's just a matter of what he does with those innings. Personally, I would pass as there are other options out there that haven't missed two whole seasons.

For what its worth, his closest comparison through age 22 (2011 season) is Josh Beckett. Beckett was a solidly above average (though not yet a star) in his age 23-25 seasons with ERA+ of 138, 108 & 118 and starting between 24-29 games. If Pineda stays healthy, he could put up decent numbers and help your team out. Although there are a lot of ifs & coulds to counter with.

Josh Johnson (45%)

During his time with the Marlins, Johnson was a brilliant but often injured pitcher. In 2013 with the Blue Jays, Johnson was an ineffective and often injured pitcher. The Padres were able to get Johnson on a one year flier when his value was at an all-time low.

Even if he his past his peak of 2010 where he dominated the 28 games he started (2.30 ERA, 180 ERA+), his ERA & WHIP numbers should improve solely on playing half of his games at Petco Park and getting out of the AL East.

Again, this is a case of whether he can be effective AND stay healthy. His most similar player through age 29 is John Montefusco. His age 30 season was not very strong. In 22 games (17 starts), he managed an 81 ERA+ in 137 innings but did manage a couple decent seasons afterwards.

With Johnson best case would be about 25-30 starts, an ERA in the mid 3-s and maybe he can back his way into 15 wins if the Padres do indeed turn out to be a better team this year.

Matt Harvey (31%)

If Harvey didn't have Tommy John surgery, he would not be on this list and would likely be an early round pick. While a lot of people are assuming that Harvey would not pitch in 2014, Matt Harvey is not one of those people. Maybe he will get in some games towards the end of the season. Unless you are in a keeper league, it's probably best to pass on Harvey this year but be ready to take him early in 2015.

His most similar player through age 24 is Ed Walsh. At age 25, he had a 1.88 ERA/135 ERA+ (this was back in 1906) and pitched very effectively ( and very often maxing out at 464 innings in 1908) earning him a spot in the hall of fame. Obviously, Harvey (or any other starter) is going to come close to pitching 350 innings (let alone five times but maybe this is an omen that Tommy John surgery is merely a bump in the road and he could end up in Cooperstown one day.

Derek Holland (29%)

If you have Holland on your roster already, you do have a slight disadvantage as he is expected to miss the start of the season due to an off-season knee injury. He'll give you consistent strikeout totals 7-8 per 9 innings but the ERA & WHIP totals aren't much to write home about. One thing (outside his control) that incrementally increases his value is having a loaded Rangers offense behind him should help him back into some additional wins. If you need a boost in strikeouts, he could be a valuable in-season pick up.

His most similar player through age 26 is Joel Pineiro. His age 27 season (2006) was an utter disaster (6.36 era/70 ERA+) though he did have a few decent seasons afterwards. For Holland, i'd be surprised if his performance fell off a cliff and i'd look to see him put up average to slightly above average numbers.

Kyle Lohse (28%)

The Brewers signed Kyle Lohse at the start of the 2013 season with the hopes that it would help their efforts to contend for a playoff spot. While Lohse did his part and had a nice season, having him on their roster helped the Brewers lose "only" 88 games instead of 90+.

Lohse is someone that I literally picked up off the waiver wire a couple minutes earlier as I needed to find a replacement for Jarrod Parker who is off to having Tommy John surgery and will be out for all of 2014. If Lohse puts up a repeat of last year's numbers i'll be happy with it both from a fan & fantasy perspective (currently Lohse is in a reserve role for my fantasy team).

Through age 34, Lohse's most similar player is Esteban Loaiza. While Lohse has started to pitch better as he's gotten into his 30's, Loaiza had one really strong season at age 31 but by the time he was 35, he was struggling to hang on and made two starts for Oakland and five starts for the Dodgers. For Lohse, my expectation is that he'll have another solid season (similar to his 2013) for the upcoming season.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. used found on

Friday, March 14, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Peter Bourjos, Raul Ibanez, Dustin Ackley, Junior Lake, Josh Willingham

Peter Bourjos (12%)

Bourjos got traded over to the Cardinals in the offseason and is looking  to bounce back from a season shortened by injury and being on a team where he's not behind Mike Trout on the depth chart for center field.

I think that Bourjos ultimately is one of those players that is more valuable (due to his defense) in real life than he is in fantasy. Batting average wise, he has been inconsistent (.251/.306 career average/obp), he doesn't draw very many walks which could lead to his performance regressing sooner rather than later.

He will hit some homers (career high of 12) and steal some bases (22) but not enough to justify a starting spot on most fantasy teams.

But then again, I could be reading things all wrong. Through age 26, his most similar player was Carl Everett aka Jurassic Carl. In addition to not believing in dinosaurs, he did overcome a show start to his career  and produce a .296/.359/.482 15 homers & 14 steals at age 27 and ultimately hitting 20 plus homers four times in his career.

With Bourjos, my guess is that his ceiling on power is about 15 homers, his ceiling on steals is around 30 and he may get the batting average in the .270 range. These aren't necessarily terrible numbers, there's just better outfield options available.

Raul Ibanez (11%)

Raul Ibanez may be like really old, Raul Ibanez may be absolutely brutal on defense. Raul Ibanez will likely return poor average/obp numbers. The one thing Raul Ibanez can do really well is hit a baseball a really, really long way. He hit for enough power (29 homers) while playing during a time where power is down and for a team that plays its home games at a stadium that is not very power friendly and still churned out a respectable 123 OPS+.

If Ibanez is going to help, it's primarily going to be one category (home runs). The question remains is whether there is another productive season left in the tank. At this point, i'd give him the benefit of the doubt that he can still produce double digit home runs but don't expect much more than that.

His most similar player through age 41 is Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine. Conine retired before his age 42 season but in his age 41 season he had a lot less in the tank .254/.317/.383 than Ibanez.

Dustin Ackley (11%)

Ackley is still young and his career could go either way. The question is which Ackley is going to show up. Is it going to be the Ackley that justifies his past status as a top 15 prospect, his respectable showing in his first year in the bigs or are we going to see more of the Ackley that struggled bad enough that he got sent down to the minor leagues for awhile last year.

If Spring Training even remotely resembles a preview of what to come when the games start to count, he could be sneaky good sleeper pick. In 30 spring training plate appearances (small sample size alert) Ackley is absolutely crushing the ball to the tune of an 1.321 OPS.

His most similar player through age 25 is Reno Bertoia. In his age 26 season he was pretty brutal .226/.302/.267 52 OPS+. Even in a worse case scenario, I think Ackley would put up much better numbers than that. Best case scenario would be a return to 2011 form and numbers around .275/.350 average/obp and 15-20 homers.

Junior Lake (10%)

Lake got his first taste of major league experience last year and put in respectable numbers in 64 games .284/.332/.428 106 OPS+. As it stands right now, he's slated to start in left field.

He'll ge the plate appearances but  the question remains of whether value will be produced from them. He's been an okay hitter in the minors but only has a .732 OPS in the minors and a .803 in 40 AAA games last year which sounds okay but was done in the offense friendly pacific coast league. A repeat of his numbers from last year is likely the best case scenario.

Josh Willingham (10%)

I thought Willingham would be a good bet in fantasy in 2013 as he showed that he could be productive while playing at target field. I was totally wrong. Along with only playing 111 games, he also had his first below average OPS+ since 2004 (when he only had 29 plate appearances).

If your in a league that counts OBP instead of average he'd have slightly more value. Despite a near mendoza line average (.208) he still but up a .342 OBP. Even though there is the hope that he can return to his older form, he already is 35 so last year may have been the beginning of the end and he's off to a very cold start in spring.

His most similar player through age 34 is Jason Werth. That season happened to be last year. Unlike Willingham, Werth had one of his best seasons last year and gets the benefit of playing on a team with a chance to win something instead of Willingham who's on a Twins team that will be lucky if they lose less than 90 games.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Likely Available Wavier Wire Talent: Andre Ethier, Denard Span, Nate McLouth, Melky Cabrera, Byron Buxton

Andre Ethier (17%)

At this point, Ethier's value is down for 2014 but I think that has more to do with him likely losing playing time. If you look past the albatross of a contract he's in the middle of (6 years, 95.95 million), he has produced reasonably consistently over the last six years (OPS+ of at least 121 in each of these seasons).

If he ends up getting traded or is somehow able to get 500+ plate appearances, he could be a quiet but consistent contributor as a utility or bench player.

His most similar player through age 31 is Rondell White. He had a decent age 32 season .270.337/.453 109 OPS+ 19 homers in 2004. Ethier is likely to continue to not have the most exciting numbers but he's still a useful player that could reasonably hit .275-.280 and throw in around 20 homers.

Denard Span (14%)

If only triples were a fantasy baseball category, maybe he would be owned in more than 14% of leagues. As it stands, while he is good enough to hold down a starting job with whatever team he plays for as an about league average hitter with above replacement level defense, for fantasy purposes, there are better options. He does provide some stolen bases and moderate average/obp numbers (.279/.327) in 2013 but you just can't by with single digit homer totals from the outfield position.

His most similar player through age 29 is Jerry Mumphrey. At age 30, he had a line of .298/.352/.372 108 OPS+ 4 homers and a career year in steals with 50. I could see Span having a similar slash line but I think that about 30 steals would be a best case scenario for him.

Nate McLouth (13%)

McLouth didn't go too far in the postseason going from the Orioles to the Nationals. With him, the only possible plus value is in steals and even there it may be a bit much to ask for a repeat of the 30 he got last year. Beside that, it's unlikely that he gets more than 300-400 plate appearances as he looks slotted to be the 4th outfielder.

Melky Cabrera (13%)

With as long as Cabrera has been in the bigs and all the controversy surrounding his 2012 season, its tough to believe that he's still only 29. His first post-suspension year was cut short due to injury at 88 games and came with an uninspiring line of .279/.322/.369 88 OPS+ that was in line with this career numbers prior to 2011-2012.

Whether his 2012 numbers would have happened with or without breaking the rules is up for debate but even if you looked at his numbers without knowing the context of him getting in trouble, the 2011 & 2012 season still look different that his other seasons.

One area of hope (small sample size alert) is that he's gotten off to a good start in spring as he has a .942 OPS in his first 25 plate appearances.

His most similar player through age 28 is Mark Kotsay. In his age 29 season, he put up a .280/.325/.421 & 15 homers. For Cabrera, a season like this is possible but highly optimistic. I think he'll put up similar avg/obp lines but double digit home run totals may be too much to ask.

Byron Buxton (13%)

The future is definitely bright for the 2012 second overall pick as he's been listed as the #1 prospect by Baseball Prospectus. In the minors, he showed why people have high hopes for him as he hit for a high average, threw in double digit home runs and drew a bunch of walks.

However, he hasn't played a game above A+ ball and is struggling so far in spring against what has been deemed to be the equivalent of AA caliber competition based on baseball reference's Opponent Quality scale.

Unless your in a keeper league, I don't think having Buxton on your team this year will yield much returns. I think he'll start out in AA but is probably a couple years away from being the star that he has the potential to turn out to be.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on

Monday, March 10, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Angel Pagan, Nick Castellanos, George Springer, Avisail Garcia, Rajai Davis

Angel Pagan (49%)

Pagan's 2013 season was shortened by injury and he's looking to bounce back in 2014. The one thing to keep an eye on is how much of his speed he maintains as he enters his age 32 season. While he has okay batting average/obp and pops the occasional homer, the bulk of his value depends on him being in the 30-35 steal range that he was in from 2010-2012.

His most similar player through age 31 is Roy Weatherly. It's about guaranteed that Pagan has better results going forward than Weatherly (who's nickname was Stormy). Weatherly only had 82 more plate appearances which came a few years later when he was 35.

Nick Castellanos (44%)

Castellanos got his first taste of major league action in 2013, getting 18 plate appearances towards the end of the season. With Castellanos, keep an eye on how he does in spring training and ultimately what role he's in to start the year. He's done good so far this spring (.905 OPS in 25 plate appearances) and he's been a top 50 prospect for the last couple of seasons.

Looking at his minor league numbers, he had respectable numbers in AAA last year (.793 OPS) but nothing that suggests that he would be very strong against major league pitching this year. For the long term keeper leagues, there's upside since he's only 21 but I think he starts getting regular playing time this year he'd probably struggle for a year or two first.

George Springer (30%)

Houston Astros fans don't have too much to be excited about these days but George Springer shows some glimpse of hope for the future. If he puts up numbers that even somewhat resemble what he did to minor league pitching last year (.303/.411/.600 37 homers, 45 steals) he's going to be an absolute monster. Also, I think any growing pains in the bigs will be somewhat absorbed by the fact that he has a patient eye at the plate (83 walks last season).

He could ultimately be an Adam Dunn three true outcomes type of player with a whole bunch of stolen bases thrown in. Last year he had a home run (37), walk (83) or strikeout (161) in 47.7% of his plate appearances. He is off to a rough start in spring training which will likely be used to keep him in the minors for a couple months to avoid him becoming a super 2 but this is a player that has the potential to swing the outcomes of fantasy leagues once he gets called up.

Avisail Garcia (25%)

Garcia ended up going from the Tigers to the White Sox as part of the three way trade that sent Jake Peavy to the Red Sox. For both 2012 & 2013 he was in the top 10 for youngest player in the AL.

He did play reasonably well after going to Chicago .304/.327/.447 106 OPS+ 5 homers/3 steals. Since the White Sox aren't expected to contend, I think Garcia gets his share of plate appearances. The question standing is if he'll do enough with those appearances to produce any value.

He's accomplished all that he can in the minors last year (.991 OPS) in 47 games. Most of the value came on the batting average side as he hit for a good average but hasn't hit more than 14 homers in a given season. Another concern in the minor league numbers is that he seems to be a free swinger as he never drew more than 20 walks in a given season. I think his power will develop as he gets older (he's only 22). It's whether he can get more selective and draw some walks that will determine whether he will have consistent value as he gets older or he's on the path to being a 4A player. For 2014, i'll pass.

Rajai Davis (25%)

Basically, Davis is a one-trick pony (stolen bases) when it comes to fantasy. It happens to be a trick that he's very good at (40+ steals four of the last five seasons). At age 33, it's legitimate to ask how much longer it will be before the speed fades away as he gets older. He may be okay on the batting average side if things break right but there's little to no value on the power side.

Through age 32, his most similar player is Scott Podsednik. At age 33, he hit for a decent average/obp (.304/.353) but he still had 30 stolen bases left in him (plus 35 the next year) before his career came to an end (with the exception of a few appearances with the 2012 Red Sox). For Davis, I think there is some value if you are in need for stolen bases though I would like for other options first. I think Davis has one or two season of decent value based on stolen base totals.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Zack Cozart, Javier Baez

Zack Cozart (21% Ownership)

Cozart is one of those players that I think ultimately will be more valuable for real life teams than fantasy. Defensively he's very strong and he even led the league in Sacrifice Flies but there are plenty of holes offensively.

While he does have some use in fantasy for squeezing home runs out of the shortstop position (27 homers over the last two years) his rate stats range from uninspiring (.254 average) to atrocious (.284 obp).

His most similar player through age 27 is Clint Barmes. In his age 28 season, he only played 27 games due to injury. While he did go on to post double figure home runs in three seasons, he never posted an above average OPS+ but he's managed to stick around because his defense is good enough to keep him at least one win above replacement despite the fact that his offense is borderline non-existent. It's pretty likely that Cozart's career is headed down the same trajectory as Barmes.

Javier Baez (20% Ownership)

This speaks pretty highly of what people think of Baez that he's owned in 20% of leagues even though he's never played a single game above AA. If you are in a keeper league, Baez would definitely be worth picking up.

For non-keeper leagues, he's probably not worth picking up currently as its more than likely he'll at least be in AAA for a couple of months prevent super 2 status (er I mean to "work on his game"). Definitely keep an eye on when he ends up in the bigs, and in a best case scenario he could be one of those rookies that tilts the outcome of fantasy leagues everywhere.

It would also help to keep an eye on how he does the rest of spring. So far (small sample size alert), he's hit a couple homers in 12 at bats and has a 1.417 OPS. Base on the opponent quality metric that's now on baseball-reference, he's doing this against relatively strong competition.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Jose Iglesias, Matt Dominguez

Today, it's about the third base position which is going to be a pretty light post because three of the five third basement who have ownership rates between 10% and 49% are also eligible at second base and have already been discussed (Rendon, Johnson & Bonifacio).

Jose Iglesias (23% Ownership)

Iglesias had his first extended look in the big leagues last year and finished second in rookie of the year voting. While He hit relatively well with the Red Sox, his bat was a lot quieter (77 OPS+) after he got traded to the Tigers in the Jake Peavy deal.

Even in best case scenario where he replicates the numbers he had in Boston, he'd be of limited use other than batting average as he hits for very limited power and doesn't steal very many bases. His minor league numbers don't scream future star (.622 OPS) and in reality they scream go find someone else to be shortstop if your desperate for a replacement.

Matt Dominguez (22% Ownership)

Another player who got his first extended look in 2013. Too bad the best part of his game (defense) isn't counted in fantasy.

In 2013, he had had underwhelming batting average & obp (.241/.286) but did contribute 21 homers indicating he could be a source of cheap power. Like with Iglesias, his minor league numbers indicates that even with these numbers he may have played over his head. Even in Triple-A and playing in the notoriously offense friendly Pacific Coast League, he put up a less than inspiring .708 OPS.

In real life, his defense is good enough that if he can keep the OPS around .700 there should be a starting spot for him, in fantasy your better of passing on him.

However, his most similar batter through age 23 is Willie Jones. At age 24, he did take a step forward with his offense hitting .267/.337/.456 and 25 homers and went on to have a 15 year career with 190 homers and a 101 OPS+. On the offense side, that would be the absolute best case scenario but at this point, I would be very surprised if Dominguez put up numbers like these this year.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: Anthony Rendon, Kelly Johnson, Omar Infante, Kolten Wong, Emilio Bonifacio

Anthony Rendon (44% Ownership)

Rendon was the #6 overall pick in the 2011 draft and got his first taste of major league action in 2013. During his 98 games, he showed he can handle major league pitching but didn't put up superstar numbers .265/.329/.396 99 OPS+ 7 hrs.

He's one of those players that is capable of doing more. He was listed as a top 30 prospect in 2012 & 2013 and only played in 79 minor league games before going to the bigs. He basically crushed minor league pitching to the tune of .939 OPS.

Part of this seems to be helped by a discerning eye as he drew 55 walks in 326 minor league plate appearances. While I think his OBP is going to be strong, i'm not sure he's necessarily going to help owners from the batting average side. I do think he will hit for some more power in 2014 and approach the 15 home run mark.

Kelly Johnson (43% Ownership)

If Johnson is going to provide value, it's going to be from the home run side. It seems like its between Kelly Johnson & Brian Roberts in who's going to fill up the second base spot and do their best to replace Robinson Cano so it would be helpful to monitor how that competition goes in spring training.

Assuming Johnson gets a regular stream of plate appearances in 2014, he could be an inexpensive source of power. I don't think he's ever going to help on the batting average side but with a proven track record of about 15 homers per year, plus being a left hand hitter combined with that short right field porch at Yankee stadium, 25 to 30 homers isn't out of the question if things break right.

Even if he falls short of that, he's still going to do better than his top comparable through age 31, Bill Hall. He played 7 games in his age 32 season (2012) and his career seems to be done after a promising couple of seasons in 2005 & 2006.

Omar Infante (34% Ownership)

Infante is going to be starting on a 4 year/$30 million deal with the Royals. Over the last few years he's been an average to slightly below average hitter. He provides decent returns in batting average and may even throw in about a dozen homers if things break right. Out of players that may be available, he's one of the more consistent but not necessarily spectacular options out there.

Through age 31, his most similar player is Jimmy Dykes. Dykes had a solid age 32 season .327/.412/.539, I don't see Infante putting numbers up that high (especially on the slugging percentage but he could still have a few decent if not spectacular seasons ahead of him.

Kolten Wong (15% Ownership)

The one thing that Wong could be relied upon if he gets regular playing time is helping in the stolen base category as he can run and run very fast. The main question is whether he can figure out major league pitching (he had a 3 OPS+ in 62 plate appearances) and a base running blunder that ended a World Series game.

Still, that's a small performance sample size, he's only 23, he's a top 100 prospect and the Cardinals (frustratingly) know what they are doing. He's had respectable offensive numbers in the minors (.811 OPS in 280 games). If he  ends up getting regular playing time, I think  he'll struggle some this year but he's definitely a better hitter than his sample size from last year indicates. If you need some stolen base help and can take potential hits in average and power, he may be a viable option.

Emilio Bonifacio (10% Ownership)

The question for the Cubs is whether they are willing to give Bonifacio and his career 79 OPS+ anything resembling regular playing time. The question for fantasy owners is whether a possible 30 or so stolen bases makes up for the fact that he's an otherwise underwhelming player on offense.

His most similar player through age 28 is Alan Bannister. In his age 29 season, he had 250 plate appearances and didn't play very well in those (.641 OPS/86 OPS+). For this year, I would be surprised if Bonifacio kept a regular starting gig throught the season. If your looking for some stolen bases but willing to take a hit in performance you'd be better off taking a risk with someone with more upside such as Kolten Wong.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on

Monday, March 3, 2014

Likely Available Waiver Wire Talent: First Base: Daniel Nava, Ike Davis, James Loney, Michael Morse, Yonder Alonso

Daniel Nava (41% ownership)

Nava played his first season of more than 100 games in 2013 and had a nice season, coming in with a 128 OPS+. The main category that Nava would help your team with is on the batting average side (he was 8th in the AL last year, even better he was 5th in OBP). He will crack the occasional home run but there are plenty of other options available if your trying to get some more power.

The most similar player to him through age 30 is Jim Eisenreich. In his age 31 season, he hit .280/.335/.397 5 hr, 12 sb. While this amounted to slightly above average production in 1990, those numbers aren't exactly going to win many fantasy leagues.

For 2014, I think Nava's batting average will be in the .285-.300 range and he might even develop some more power and get in the 15 to 18 homer range. He's not a game changer but could be a passable fill in/bench player if your regular first baseman gets hurt.

Ike Davis (26% ownership)

Ike Davis has shown signs that he could be a fantasy baseball monster in short spurts (such as 2011) and that he can help in the power department (such as 2012).

It's unknown whether he will start the season with the Mets or get traded. During the off-season there were rumors that there was an Ike Davis to the Brewers for Tyler Thornburg trade. Even with the desperate situation of first base for the Brewers (where Mark Reynolds/Juan Francisco platoon passes as a substantial improvement) i'm glad the Brewers didn't take this offer if it was on the table.

The one thing buried in 2013's numbers is that he actually did hit better during this time even if the power numbers weren't there. There is at least the potential of upside in where there is at least one monster season in there if owners are willing to take a flyer on Davis.

His most similar player through age 26 is Carlos Pena. In his age 27 season Pena, only had 295 plate appearances but hit 18 homers in those appearances. For Davis, a Carlos Pena type career may be a best case scenario. While it took Pena until about age 29 to figure things out, once he did he had three seasons where he was a monster in the home run category.

For Davis, assuming he stays healthy I think he hits about 20-25 homers but is likely to be a liability in the batting average department. He's not as safe or consistent as Nava as a back up but the potential for reward is also higher.

James Loney (16% ownership)

Yes, Loney did have nice season with the Rays last year but i'm skeptical of his ability to repeat his performance again. Loney is another player where there was speculation that the Brewers may try to pick up and again he's a player where i'm glad they didn't sign him for three years.

If owners are lucky, they may get some help in the batting average department but expectations on power number production are very modest at best. The most similar batter through age 29 is Willie Montanez.

His age 30 season he had reasonable hr & rbi totals (17/96) but only had a .256 batting average (along with .320 OBP and 102 OPS+). While I think Loney's OPS+ will come in pretty close to that total, he'll probably get there through the route of better batting average but lesser contributions in the power/run production categories.

Michael Morse (13% ownership)

The main question with Morse is can he stay healthy over the course of an entire season? More often than not the answer of this question seems to be no. But, the one time he did stay healthy (2011) he put up some monster numbers .303/.360/.550 31 hrs.

Even if Morse doesn't go back to playing 140+ games, there is enough power in the bat that there will be at least a few weeks where he goes on a scorching hot streak and can help the saavy fantasy owner. There's now way he should be used for a high-level draft pick but he's a good buy low candidate either as a last round pick and should be available on the waiver wire if you need to find some power at some point this year.

His most similar player through age 31 is Charlie Maxwell. He had himself a productive age 32 season .251/.357/.461 31 hrs in 1959 which happened to be the first and only time he had 30 plus homers.

For Morse, I think his batting average comes back closer to his .281 career average and I think he'll get enough plate appearances to hit 20-25 homers.

Yonder Alonso (11% ownership)

Alonso is a player that has a lot of potential. He was listed as a top 100 prospect for four years in a row and he was part of the return the Padres got for trading Mat Latos to the Reds. In his two years with the Padres, he has been a productive player with above average OPS+ the last two years (110 & 106).

However, that hasn't translated to fantasy value as his batting average has been in the .270-.280 range and his power has been limited (15 over the last two years). While Alonso isn't a bad player, he isn't necessarily the optimal player for fantasy purposes. Part of it, is that Petco park does suppress power and the other part of it is it seems like his power is still developing. Eventually, a lot of those doubles that he's hitting should turn into home runs.

In the long term he could hit a peak of  hitting .290-.300 with 15 to 20 homers per year but I don't think he's quite there yet. Through age 26 his most similar player is Carlos Quintana. He played 101 games during his age 27 season to underwhelming results (56 OPS+). I think that's where the comparison ends with Alonso. My guess is that he has some decent if not spectacular seasons ahead of him. I think he holds steady on batting average and cracks the 10 to 12 homer range. He strikes me as someone who will have more valuable to his actual team than fantasy owners.