Tagged: Matt Kemp

An impossibly hot stove and an embarrassingly long absence

The stove is hot, people. HOT! And as Every Time I Die once said: I been gone a long time. Sorry about that. I finished the first term of my last year of graduate school. It was probably the hardest one, and it should be smooth sailing from here on out.

I’m also pretty proud of a research paper I just completed regarding the probability of future success of minor leagues. The results are robust and I couldn’t be more pleased. It was a school project, so I didn’t have time to make it nearly as complex as I would have hoped, but it’s something I plan to further investigate in the coming days, weeks, months, what-have-you.

Anyway, there is plenty of news flying around as well as plenty of analysis. I’ll do my best to recap, but surely I’ll miss some things:

And I’m ignoring all the prospects involved as well. Marcus Semien, Austin Barnes, Jairo Diaz and others got shipped. I can only imagine a whole lot more action will be happening soon, as there still are teams with surpluses and deficits at all positions and some big-name free agents left on the market, including Max Scherzer and James Shields.

It is clear, however, that the Cubs  and Blue Jays intend to more than simply contend. I would say the Marlins intend to as well, but I don’t even think they know what they’re doing, let alone we do. The White Sox are looking like a trendy sleeper with some key pitching additions (LaRoche is also an addition, but far from what I would call a “key” one), but they are far from a championship team.

But with so much more yet to happen, maybe it’s best to wait and see. There are obviously some ballpark and team-skill implications that will affect all these players’ projections, but I’ll get around to those in 2015.

I’ve finished my preliminary set of pitcher projections. I’ll share them but they’ll see some refining by the time March rolls around.

I’m also looking at how my projections fared last year. That will come in the next couple of days.

Keep your ear to the ground, people. Or to the stove. Never mind. Terrible idea. You’ll burn yourself. Just keep it to the ground.

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A smorgasbord of fantasy baseball advice

Need a Streamer has been slow lately, to say the least. I’ve missed discussing a lot of player news and opportunities to provide good streaming picks. So I’m going to try something new, and maybe it’ll stick. It should be fairly explanatory. I hope it holds readers over until the end of this week, which is probably the busiest week for me in a long time.

Player to add that isn’t Gregory PolancoA.J. Pollock, ARI OF
He’s on the DL, so you’ve got time to pull the trigger. His batting average isn’t for real, but the 6 homers and 8 steals are nice, and he will more than likely join the small number of players who achieve double-digits in each category in a given year. I would expect a batting average closer to .265, but if you can punt average for counting stats in a deeper league, I would go for it.

Hitter to drop: Jay Bruce, CIN OF
Honorable mention goes to Brandon Phillips, Bruce’s teammate, but it is more fitting that the suggested replacement player can actually replace someone. Bruce is striking out about 5 percentage points more often than last year and almost 8 percentage points more than his career rate. Meanwhile, he is hitting more ground balls than fly balls, whereas about two-thirds of all of Bruce’s batted balls over his career have been put in the air. The sample size is quite large now, and I think there may be something wrong with the slugger. His ratio of home runs to fly balls (HR/FB) is a little bit deflated, but even if it returns to his career average, I still wouldn’t expect him to hit much more than 20 home runs, and that’s a serious problem for a guy who’s value lies solely in his power. Bruce is shaping up to be the next Curtis Granderson, and I have legitimate concerns about his current and future value.

Pitcher to add: Marcus Stroman, TOR
Stroman could quickly rise to the top as Toronto’s ace come 2015 if he lives up to his minor league numbers. So far, he has. I liked Stroman a lot as a prospect, as he averaged 10.6 strikeouts and only 2.4 walks per nine innings. He began the year in the bullpen and suffered a couple of brutal appearances in a row, so his two recent (and excellent) starts have improved his numbers to a still-shaky 5.40 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. But I think he’s a starter by trade, and his 13 strikeouts and two walks over 12 innings as a starter support such a claim. Your window to claim Stroman may stay open for a while, especially if other owners simply look at his misleading ERA and WHIP or, on ESPN, his average points, which stands at an underwhelming 3.3 per appearance. However, if he keeps flashing this kind of quality, you’ll start to run out of time.

Wednesday streamer, other than Stroman: Rubby De La Rosa, BOS
I’ll be honest, I’m not thrilled about him, but everyone has caught on to Tyson Ross (although he’s still only 73-percent owned), so tomorrow’s options are slim. De La Rosa comes with K’s but also BB’s; however, he carries a 13-to-2 K/BB ratio into this start on the road, so perhaps he can continue to keep the command issues under control.

Prospect(s) to watch: Joc Pederson, LAD OF, and Mookie Betts, BOS 2B
Pederson and Betts will likely not be up any time soon, as they’re blocked by some pretty large figures at their respective positions. But given the hype surrounding a couple of 2014’s call-ups in George Springer and, most recently, Gregory Polanco, it’s good to know who the next impact players will be. Pederson is batting .327/.437/.615 with 16 home runs and 14 steals. Are you serious? I think he’s a bit too far to reach a 40/40 season, but 30/30 is probably at this point. It’s unfortunate the Dodgers are letting him rot in the minors beneath a pile of unmovable cash in their impacted outfield. Betts recently moved up to Triple-A Pawtucket; prior to this move, he stole 22 bases in 285 plate appearances while batting .346 with almost twice as many walks as strikeouts. He’s going to be really good, with astounding plate discipline, decent speed and a little bit of pop, too. If you hear Pederson’s and Bett’s names, or the names of their predecessors (Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Dustin Pedroia…), in next month’s trade talks, get ready to prospectively add, add, add.

Don’t shy from injured pitchers

Drafting injured players can be tricky. The success of the strategy is largely dependent on your league’s rules. In a single-year format, where all players are thrown back into the pool for next season’s draft, the room for error is much narrower. In a dynasty format, however, where players are kept for X number of years or at an additional premium to the player’s salary of Y dollars, it can be used much more effectively because the chances for success are spread distributed temporally.

For example: An owner in my primary 10-team standard rotisserie league with an auction draft purchased an injured Hanley Ramirez last year for $6. Had he been healthy, he probably would have gone for $25, but his estimated time of arrival in 2013 was uncertain; he actually played his first game April 1, 2013, but appeared in only three more games between then and June 4. This uncertainty greatly reduced his value.

I should re-phrase: the uncertainty greatly reduced his 2013 value. With four days until draft day, I’m realizing now that Ramirez’s value at $6, even in 2013, was immense for the format of our league, because now he will be owned for a measly $9 — all because the owner was willing to plug a hole with a replacement-level shortstop for two months. Now his team is poised to dominate this year with cheap retention prices for Chris Davis and Paul Goldschmidt to boot.

Breaking down the strategy, it makes a lot of sense. Stream someone like Stephen Drew, ESPN’s 18th best shortstop of 2013, for two months while Ramirez heals. Their patchwork stat line would have looked like this:

.302 BA, 80 R, 24 HR, 78 RBI, 12 SB

That is a solid line for a shortstop, regardless of whose name — or names — show up in the box score.

If you fancy yourself a bargain hunter or someone who can spot the late-round sleepers, this strategy makes even more sense: Draft a superstar for less than face value, stash him on the DL and fill the opening with whomever this year’s Jean Segura may be. Even if you can’t find this year’s breakout star, the replacement-level strategy still has the opportunity to be effective.

Upon further reflection, I may take a chance on players such as Cole Hamels and Hisashi Iwakuma whose draft stocks may take a hit. There’s enough pitching depth for me to make their absences painless, and I have a chance to retain them next year at a discount (relative to their expected salaries).

It’s important, though, that the player has already established a high benchmark for himself. In this case, Jurickson Profar wouldn’t be as smart a play here; he wasn’t going for a lot of money (or too quickly off draft boards) in the first place.

The best opportunities, therefore, are found in the best players who are out for two or three months. It’s important to wring out as much 2015 value as possible, but you don’t want to clog your DL all year and hamper your 2014 value too much, or it defeats the purpose. Clearly, one must strike a fine balance.

But, basically, if you see an injured player heavily discounted on draft day, and you’re  in a league that rewards bargain hunting, take a stab at him.

Here are some so-called “eligible” players for this injured-player strategy and what I predict their discounts might be:

Hamels, SP, expected to miss a month | $10, three to four rounds
Iwakuma, SP, expected to miss a month | $11, seven to eight rounds
Mike Minor, SP, expected to miss a month | $8, six to seven rounds
Aroldis Chapman, RP, expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks | $9, four to five rounds
Manny Machado, 3B, expected to miss a week, but could miss a month | $3, three rounds
Michael Bourn, OF, expected to miss a couple of weeks, but could be longer | $4, four rounds
Matt Harvey, SP, expected to miss entire year | $18, 12 to 15 rounds
Kris Medlen, PS, expected to miss entire year | $15, 10 to 12 rounds ***DISCLAIMER: may not return to form after second Tommy John surgery

Players for whom the strategy may not work so well:

Mat Latos, SP, will only miss a couple of starts
Homer Bailey, SP, will only miss a couple of starts
Profar, 2B, will miss 10 to 12 weeks but isn’t valuable enough
Jeremy Hellickson, SP, will miss two months but isn’t valuable enough
A.J. Griffin, SP, will miss entire year but isn’t valuable enough
Jarrod Parker, SP, will miss entire year but isn’t valuable enough
Brandon Beachy, SP, will miss entire year but isn’t valuable enough

Players who are wild cards:

Matt Kemp, OF, depends on if you think he’ll return to form

2014 Rankings: Outfielders

Rankings based on 10-team standard 5×5 rotisserie format.

Name – R / RBI / HR / SB / BA

  1. Mike Trout – 119 / 91 / 31 / 39 / .320
  2. Ryan Braun – 98 / 103 / 30 / 28 / .308
  3. Andrew McCutchen – 102 / 90 / 23 / 27 / .298
  4. Adam Jones – 97 / 91 / 32 / 15 / .283
  5. Jose Bautista – 101 / 96 / 37 / 6 / .276
  6. Carlos Gonzalez – 92 / 86 / 24 / 20 / .299
  7. Matt Holliday – 95 / 97 / 24 / 5 / .300
  8. Carlos Gomez – 95 / 69 / 24 / 39 / .268
  9. Alex Rios – 91 / 82 / 21 / 28 / .284
  10. Hunter Pence – 88 / 99 / 23 / 14 / .275
  11. Jay Bruce – 86 / 101 / 33 / 8 / .253
  12. Jacoby Ellsbury – 84 / 56 / 13 / 45 / .286
  13. Justin Upton – 95 / 77 / 24 / 15 / .270
  14. Josh Hamilton – 79 / 92 / 28 / 8 / .272
  15. Austin Jackson – 105 / 53 / 16 / 13 / .292
  16. Alex Gordon – 90 / 76 / 19 / 12 /.281
  17. Shane Victorino – 91 / 62 / 16 / 26 / .278
  18. Yoenis Cespedes – 78 / 87 / 26 / 12 / .265
  19. Michael Cuddyer – 86 / 84 / 21 / 10 / .271
  20. Giancarlo Stanton – 75 / 85 / 31 / 5 / .259
  21. Bryce Harper – 88 / 60 / 21 / 15 / .273
  22. Yasiel Puig – 91 / 73 / 19 / 16 / .256
  23. Carlos Beltran – 75 / 80 / 22 / 3 / .286
  24. Torii Hunter – 79 / 83 / 17 / 6 / .283
  25. Curtis Granderson – 81 / 63 / 32 / 15 / .250
  26. Jayson Werth – 68 / 62 / 23 / 13 / .298
  27. Starling Marte – 89 / 51 / 14 / 43 / .249
  28. Adam Eaton – 98 / 45 / 10 / 29 / .274
  29. Norichika Aoki – 87 / 47 / 11 / 25 / .289
  30. Matt Kemp – 70 / 68 / 20 / 13 / .294
  31. Jason Heyward – 82 / 65 / 25 / 11 / .263
  32. Melky Cabrera – 77 / 66 / 14 / 11 / .297
  33. Michael Bourn – 94 / 52 / 7 / 31 / .269
  34. Alfonso Soriano – 72 / 99 / 27 / 7 / .241
  35. Carl Crawford – 81 / 62 / 12 / 20 / .284
  36. Shin-Soo Choo – 77 / 66 / 17 / 19 / .272
  37. Nelson Cruz – 66 / 81 / 25 / 10 / .267
  38. Coco Crisp – 84 / 59 / 11 / 29 / .264
  39. Wil Myers – 82 / 86 / 17 / 8 / .258
  40. Nick Markakis – 83 / 75 / 13 / 1 / .281
  41. Khris Davis – 74 / 74 / 23 / 8 / .254
  42. Desmond Jennings – 87 / 51 / 14 / 26 / .255
  43. Rajai Davis – 68 / 44 / 8 / 47 / .267
  44. Billy Hamilton – 77 / 39 / 2 / 68 / .241
  45. Brett Gardner – 92 / 48 / 7 / 27 / .263
  46. Justin Ruggiano – 63 / 63 / 22 / 18 / .253
  47. Angel Pagan – 70 / 51 / 8 / 22 / .285
  48. Domonic Brown – 68 / 79 / 19 / 6 / .251
  49. Michael Brantley – 66 / 59 / 8 / 17 / .285
  50. B.J. Upton – 72 / 60 / 15 / 27 / .224
  51. Christian Yelich – 80 / 53 / 11 / 21 / .246
  52. Josh Reddick – 71 / 66 / 19 / 8 / .240
  53. Will Venable – 61 / 51 / 12 / 24 / .265
  54. Josh Willingham – 67 / 77 / 21 / 3 / .237
  55. Andre Ethier – 60 / 64 / 15 / 3 / .281
  56. Dayan Viciedo – 61 / 68 / 21 / 0 / .264
  57. Colby Rasmus – 75 / 63 / 19 / 4 / .244
  58. Corey Hart – 64 / 61 / 16 / 3 / .272
  59. Kole Calhoun – 61 / 65 / 16 / 5 / .269
  60. Gerardo Parra – 66 / 51 / 10 / 10 / .281

Thoughts, lots of ’em:

  • Full disclosure: I have NO IDEA what to do for Billy Hamilton. I did a brief bit of research to see how a player’s stolen base trend changed throughout the minorsand  into the majors, and for the most part, a player still attempts to steal at about the same frequency in the majors as he did in Triple-A. As for Hamilton’s on-base percentage, that’s the million-dollar question. He’s a game-changer, but I don’t know if he’s worth taking in the first five or six rounds, as I’ve clearly shown above.
  • Ryan Braun, folks. He’s being drafted 17th on average in ESPN mock drafts right now, but I don’t see how he won’t be a top-10 or possibly top-5 fantasy player by year’s end. On their Fantasy Focus podcast, Eric Karabell and Tristan Cockcroft argued about how many bases Braun will steal. My projection is lofty; Karabell is pretty negative about it, thinking closer to 15 swipes. Still, give him a mere 10 stolen bases and he’s still the game’s second-best outfielder. He’s a rich man’s Andrew McCutchen formerly on PEDs. So… not quite McCutchen, but you know.
  • Speaking of PEDs, it’s weird to see Melky Cabrera’s name on that list, yeah? A look at his peripherals last year shows he may have suffered some bad luck beyond any PED regression (if such a thing exists), including a horrid AB/RBI rate that’s all but out of Melky’s hands. I’ll give it another season before writing him off completely; we tend to have too short of memories when it comes to players in fantasy. He was solid for two years, and I’ll take a two-year trend over one. Considering he’s being drafted 52nd overall, I guess this officially makes him a sleeper.
  • CarGo is ranked uncharacteristically low, but my projection took the under on his games player. I maintain if he can play a full year, he’s actually a smidge better than Braun. If you’re cool with risk and can build a roster around the possibility that CarGo will be sidelined at any given moment, he’s worth the massive upside of staying healthy just once. Please, CarGo. For us.
  • Speaking of guys with built-in injury risks: Ellsbury, Stanton, Harper, Granderson, Werth. If you want to construct a risky, huge-upside team, make these guys your five outfielders. Don’t forget the Grandy Man hit more than 40 home runs in 2012 and 2013, and Stanton can hit 40 home runs with his eyes closed. He’s, what, 24 years old? That’s insane.
  • Touching on Harper again, I know he’s pretty low here. If he can play a full 162 or a close to it, he’s a 30/20 guy who will crack the top 10. I think the MVP talk can be put to rest before the season starts, though.
  • Wait, guys — WHAT? Jose Bautista? Yeah, dude. He’s a monster and, like Granderson, he still has huge power. It never left, and he was on pace for big things last year before it got derailed. Take a leap of faith. One of these guys has to stay healthy this year, right?
  • Puig will naturally be a topic of discussion all year. I paid careful attention to Puig’s projection; let me be very clear that I think this is his absolute floor. This is looking at huge regression in BAbip (batting average on balls in play) and HR/FB (home runs per fly ball). Honestly, he’s probably better than a .300-BAbip batter, and if the power and speed is real, this is a huge undervalue. I’m well aware that every other projection has him snugly in the top 30 or so players, so this is likely falling on deaf ears.
  • I wrote about Cruz’s immense power potential that is perpetually muted by his inability to stay on the field. You know what’s super interesting? He’ll likely be used in some weird rotation with Nolan Reimold and Henry Urrutia all at left field and the designated hitter, with him seeing the lion’s share of at-bats at DH — all but removing his injury risk. Give him another 150 at-bats and he’ll gladly reward you with eight to 10 bombs. Now, to remove that PED risk, too.
  • Khris “Krush” Davis is interesting because it’s hard to tell if his power is super-for-real or just regular for-real. Like Puig, I think this is more of a floor projection — and that’s saying a lot. The strikeouts might be a problem, but if you’re drafting him for his batting average, you’re not doing it right.
  • Yelich at No. 51 was really interesting to me. He’s a sneaky speed guy with something like a 15-homer, 25-steal upside and a solid batting average, making him a must-draft outfielder. If only there were Marlins on base for him to knock in…
  • Honorable mentions for cheap power Raul Ibanez and Mike Morse
    Honorable mentions for cheap speed: Leonys Martin and Ben Revere. I actually like Martin a lot more than his lack of projection here indicates. He’s got pop, and a full season in the Texas Rangers’ outfield makes him 100-percent draftworthy.
  • P.S. I don’t have much faith in Marlon Byrd. But take a chance on him if you want.