It is now almost a month into the season and we have seen some surprising performances. The question is which ones will continue and which ones will go back to what we expected. We use that big sabermetrics term called regression to explain the fact that all performances come back to earth. This leads to those great trade high/low questions everyone is asking this time of the year. Yet for some reason all I hear in my head is some teenage girl saying “Are you for real”. That is truly what we want to know as we try to make our lineup changes, waiver wire pickups, and trades. It can be easy to say that every guy outperforming his numbers will drop and those underperforming will pick it up. This is true for many players, but not all. No one is going to give up on Miguel Cabrera who was the #2 overall pick this year. He has too many good years to think that his position rank of 15 (3B) per ESPN is for real. There are no numbers at this point of the year that I am willing to take that override the 11 years we have seen prior. At 31 we may see him decline some, but he should be fine for several more years to come. I decided to go position by position and pick out guys that are far from their expected values to tell you if they are for real. Make sure you understand that For Real means they may continue what they are doing good or bad, while Not for Real means they will see their numbers return to what was expected. For ease of reference all player position ranks and ADPs I use will be from ESPN as of 4/28/14
At catcher an injury throws some extra questions at the #1 rated catcher this year, Devin Mesoraco. He has been on our radar for years. He was a post hype guy that was so far post hype he was not even post hype hyped. This was demonstrated in the fact he was undrafted in most leagues. He however found his way onto many teams with his unsustainable .468 average. Truefuly, that is unsustainable for everyone. I have to say that I do believe he can be a top 10 Catcher this year if he gets back on the field at or near the end of his 15 day disabled list time. His former manager never has been very friendly to the young guys. The new managerial staff seems to be giving the young guys plenty of leash to run. If someone drops him and you have room on your DL grab him. He is worth taking a lottery ticket on. He is For Real (well maybe not .468 for real, but you know what I mean)
On the other side, Carlos Santana is rated 52 after having an ADP of 74.5. That is a giant slide in production. I have never been as high as others on his upside. I do love that he is eligible at three positions. Guys like this help in daily move leagues to fill out your lineup on those Mondays and Thursdays. This start is Not For Real. You can expect a rebound here.
Pujos has flashed back to his 2010 self. Rated #3 at 1B he has made us remember why he was the #1 overall pick for many years. Maybe the feet were that bad. I am beginning to think they were a problem for longer than we knew. I do not expect him to hold up as the #3 guy all year, but if I have him I am not trading him. I also would not trade for him as his owner will want much more than his preseason value. Pujos is probably maybe For Real. Okay, that was a terrible(sounds better if you pretend Charles Barkley is saying it) answer. The truth is I want to believe he is back.
Adrian Gonzalez, He hit 40 HRs with Petco as his home field once. He hurt his wrist and it seems that it took time to get his power stroke back. We have seen this with wrist injuries before. I say he is For Real.
Jose Abreu is rated #1 right now. He may not be the #1 1B, but if can keep his K Rate down he is For Real.
Edwin Encarnacion looks to be his old self after 2 great years. I will be staying away because this start may be For Real. With 25Ks in 25 games something seems to be wrong here. He had only 62 Ks in 621 PA last year. He is over a 1/3 of the way there in just 107 PA so far this year.
Prince Fielder has me nervous but as I said about Miguel earlier he has a long track record that is hard to ignore. The only issue that concerns me is that last year was not up to his previous standard. I am sticking with him for now and saying this start is Not For Real.
Brandon Phillips is off to a poor start after an offseason that the Reds tried to off load him. He his currently rated the 28th at 2nd base. He was the 6th 2nd baseman drafted on average. If you can get anywhere near that value you need to sell as I think this start is For Real.
Rated #1 at 2nd Brian Dozier is showing speed and power you rarely see from 2nd. The scary thing is his Uggla like .217 BA. I think he ends up as an easy top 10 2nd Baseman this year, just not a top 5 much less #1. The .217 BA is For Real. The 40-40 pace is Not for Real.
Emilio Bonifacio has done this before. He has created a game they use on the Fantasy Focus Podcast. Which although they are doing good job, the new host have no understanding of the game. If you know the game is is definitely Bonifacio.
Anthony Rendon see the Fantasy Targets Blog. FOR REAL!
3rd Base is a train wreck this year! Injuries have destroyed the ratings. Looking at the top ten drafted, other the Miguel, everything looks as it should due to the injuries. The surprises here are Nolan Arenado who was a great post hype buy in my book this year. He has a good pedigree and a great home field. He is For Real.
.394 BABIPs are unsustainable so Trevor Plouffe is Not For Real.
Alexei Ramirez is looking like the guy I thought he would become years ago. The problem is that was years ago and he has not shown anything like this the last couple of years. With that said he has hit 21 HRs in a season (Rookie Year 2008) and stole 30 bags (last year). So somewhere in there is a 20-20 guy, I just think at 32 we may never see it come out. This start is Not for Real. With that said he could still be a 15-15 guy and valuable to your team.
I’ll make this quick like Dee Gordon, he is For Real. (well the speed is, not the .353 Ba)
J.J. Hardy has no HRs so far this year and that is what you drafted him. He will hit 20 HRs this year so this start is Not For Real.
Bryce Harper plays the game aggressive and that is making him a risky player. He has talent and he has passion for the game. I just do not know when or if he will put it all together and stay healthy. He is looking like the guy you can only plan for 130 games a year. So after a slow start and now he is injured what can we expect from him the rest of the way. This start is Not For Real, however the injury risk is ForReal.
Charlie Blackmon has really helped those that had him on their rosters this year. Now find that guy in your league that believes what the stats say this year and unload him now. I am not saying he is bad he just is not this good. Make sure you tout that he is the #1 rated player overall. Just don’t tell them that this is start is Not For Real.
Here are two PED guys that we all have questions about. Melky Cabrera is off to a hot start, the kind of numbers he only put up in one other season. Ya, that one he got hit for PED use. I may be a skeptic on him as I say Not For Real because I am worried how his next test turns out. With that said I think that Nelson Cruz is For Real. Maybe I am a hypocrite because I believe in one and not the other. I feel that Cruz has shown his power before and I feel more strongly it was not all PED enhanced. In addition, he should thrive at Camden Yards.
Chris Colabello simply Not for Real. He is a great story. I am rooting for him as he lives a dream that he has worked hard for. I just simply can not advise for him. The one thing I will say his 2013 AAA numbers are amazing, however he was 29 years old.
Johnny Cueto is dealing like we know he can. The problem is will the injury bug bite him again. This start is For Real. Just beware of the injury risk.
Now for the reason so many people advise you to get hitters first and fill in your pitching staff later. There are 5 pitchers of the top 12 rated SPs that carried an ADP of 260, which means they were not drafted in most leagues. They are Jason Hammel, Aaron Harang, Martin Perez, Scott Kazmir, and Tim Hudson. I think that Scott Kazmir is For Real. The Rangers Believe in Martin Perez and although he will not be this good he is For Real. I am not buying any of the other starts to Hammel, Harang, and Hudson are Not For Real.
I am afraid I may have been wrong on Homer Bailey, I thought he finally turned the corner. I have to say at this point I have to say this start is For Real. Here is the glimmer of hope for those that want to believe it is not for real, his BABIP against is .414.
Matt Cain is struggling to start this year. He had some troubles last year also. I do not see any signs that he is this guy. I feel that he can turn it around so this start is Not For Real.
Here is the key to closer being for real. Now this is a secret and don’t tell anyone. If they are the closer they are for real right up till they get removed from the role. Then the next guy is for real until he is replaced. This repeats forever kind of like the decimals in π.
Just remember its still just one month into the season.
I am always targeting players I think will improve my keeper teams for this year and beyond. I know, everyone says don’t make any changes until a month or more into the season. I agree, you should trust your preparation and see how it all shake out. However, why not take the opportunity to improve your team when someone else lacks trust in the team they built. I always have guys that I think will have a significant change in their value each year. This is how you keep your keeper team stocked year in year out. I target them whenever I see an opening. That is, if I was unable to acquire them in the auction or draft. Last year, I did whatever I could to get Goldschmidt on my teams. This really helped me out last year and his value as a keeper for this year is the added bonus. Sometimes you have the opportunity to trade low for theses players when they are slumping. Other times, I will trade for them when someone else thinks they are selling high. Here is a list of the players I am looking to acquire this year in my keeper leagues.
Lucroy has flashed a contact rate of 86% and 87% the last two years. He hit a respectable .280 last year even though his BABIP was 20 points lower than his three year average. Then you add in that he had 18 HRs. Lucroy was ranked 7th http://www.baseballwhiz.com/c-rankings.html and had an AAV of just $9. per ESPN. I think he can outperform his projections and have a 70/20 85/5/.310 season. He will be a top three catcher next year when the ranking come out.
This pick is easy to prove. He played 8 full seasons in Atlanta. In those he had no fewer than 18 HRs . He now plays for the New York Yankees. He bats Left Handed. Turner Field vs Yankee Stadium. I see a new season high for HRs coming. I’ll say 27 to be safe but if they find him extra ABs(DH) he could cross the 30 mark. Also $9 AAV per ESPN. By the way, he will hit in Yankee Stadium for as many as 81 games next year, too!
He got some love after last years 89/23/109/1/.319 fantasy line. I think there is more to come. A lot more. I think he could be as high as the #2 ranked first baseman next year. You think I am crazy, right? Check this out, he has improved each of these areas every year of his career; BB rate, K Rate, BB/K rate, Contact rate. That is impressive and even more so, he is only 24 years old. He hits the ball to all fields and has 30 Hr power. Everyone is saying he can not sustain the .371 Babip rate or his .443 BA with runners in scoring position he had last year. These are good points. My belief is that he is going to continue to develop. He will be a .300 hitter, with 30 plus HR ceiling. His value was all the way up to $20 AAV this year. However, next year you will spend $30 or more to land him.
You can see what he is doing this year already. This is what many of us have been waiting for. He is reaching his potential and at age 26 he is reaching his prime years. He was a steal this year at $5 AAV. Look for the owner that wants to sell high. Then remind him of what he gave up over the next few seasons.
This guy was so far under the radar this year that his AAV was just $1.4. He was in a position battle for 2B with Danny Espinosa during spring training. I knew from the start that the Nationals wanted his bat in the lineup. He was a third baseman until they moved him to second last year. They did that because they have a 3B signed to a long term deal. This is where I want to rant on the fact that Ryan Zimmerman(now on the DL with a fractured thumb) can not make a throw to first anymore. In fact he should relay it to the pitcher… Sorry, I got off track. Back to Rendon. He is a power hitting 2B that will soon have 3B eligibility. I expect a 80/20/80/4/.280 season. I also think this is not his ceiling, expect more growth over the next few seasons. For the record, I think Zimmerman will be a first baseman within a season or two, unless they can fix his shoulder.
I will just say this, these are still the guys I have my eye on at Third base. They are definitely buy low candidates at this point.
He has displayed that he has power. Boston, at this point, seems committed to him. I feel he has 30 Hr potential and could carry a BA that will not hurt your team. The fear is the injury bug continues to haunt him and someone gets hot and Middlebrooks loses his hold on the 3B job. Get him now, stash him on your DL. He is a low risk, high reward move right now.
Yes, I have seen his .091 average this year. I also just claimed him off waivers in a keeper league. We have all heard of the great strides he’s made with KC’s hitting coach. It is early, they are still writing his name in the lineup. I have faith, plus I gave up nothing for him. The ultimate in low risk, high reward move.
Where did 17 HRs come from last year? He flashed some power in the WBC. I admit that this is a gut feeling from what I have come to know about Simmons. He was drafted as a hard throwing pitcher, but wanted to play SS. Atlanta gave him the chance with the agreement that if it did not go well he would move back to the mound. This tells me that this guy has a true love for playing the game as a fielder. He is committed to proving what he can do. He has already proven his fielding prowess. So, this is where the gut part comes in. He wants it, and those with his ability and drive tend to succeed. For the numbers, he has a contact rate of 90% for his career. Not many of those guys hit .248 as he did last year. I see a .249 Babip that regresses to the norm this year and jumps his BA up to the .290 range.
This guy will single handedly win you the SB category for years to come. Ya, not may HR’s or RBI’s. I think he can carry a .260 average and will score plenty of runs. Hamilton has been an enigma in auctions and drafts this year. He will be an enigma for opposing teams this year when he gets on base. He will steal a 100 bases in a season, soon.
We all know this guy. However, his struggles have dropped his value so far down. The risk is definitely worth taking. He will never threaten 40-40 again. But, a 30-15 from an outfielder is worth more than the $14 AAV he carried this year. I would not overpay to get Kemp, however if you can sell high on one of your players good starts, go for it.
Never, Never, Never rely on them as a keeper. Think Tommy John. Sorry, that was not meant to hurt your feelings Braves fans.
See this and many other great Blogs over at http://www.baseballwhiz.com/
I used the composite projections supplied by Fantasy411 @ http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/ to make hitter and now Pitcher values for ESPN standard leagues. Use these values to help you in your ESPN standard leagues.
The composite projections take an average of up to 14 different projections. This gives you a great average of all high and low projections. Which makes these very safe estimates. I feel that these values should are then also very safe. I feel anyone you can get at the prices listed here is a good value.This means that there is a little wiggle room for the players you have a good feeling about. You will need to make adjustments for players values as the position battles work themselves out.
I used the composite projections supplied by Fantasy411 @ http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/ to make hitter values for ESPN standard leagues. Use these values to help you in your ESPN standard leagues. Look for Pitcher Values soon!
1. Buster Posey
He should have plenty PA with the new Posey rule in effect to help protect him from injury. This is not to mention the fact that the Giants seem to find ways to keep his bat in the line up by utilizing him at first base and DH in interleague play. So you can expect non typical PA for a Catcher from Posey. This makes him my top catcher this year.
2. Carlos Santana
Santana is another candidate who will have a high PA total for a Catcher as the Indians used him at first base and DH last year. Now there is even talk of putting him at third base. I am not sure how that will work out but it shows their commitment to get him to the plate.
3. Joe Mauer
It may be the last year we can list Mauer under the catcher section. This is good news for this year, however he does not have the power to be a top level first baseman. With that said his double digit home runs and .300 plus average and counting stats look great at catcher. Lets hope that they find him 20 games at catcher so he can continue to help fantasy owners fill their catcher spot.
4. Yadier Molina
If we were talking about real baseball he would be the top catcher no doubt! However, this is fake baseball and he still is a guy you want. They have to beg him to come out of the line up. He has a very good line up around him that combined with a plus .300 average and double digit power will give you good counting stats from a catcher.
5. Jonathan Lucroy
Hitting his prime years Lucroy could have breakout potential. He has upside of 20 home runs and .300 average. I could see him ending the year as the top catcher. He has hit .320 in 2012 and had 18 HR last year. He is a good value as the fifth catcher.
6. Brian McCann
If he can stay healthy he should be a great fit for the Yankees. He hit 20 plus homer runs for 6 staight years in Atlanta. With the change in scenery he may approach 30 Home runs. If you wait and can get McCann late he is a steal.
7. Wilin Rosario
There is a lot to love about Wilin, power, average, and Colorado. But, wait he had just a 1% bb rate in the second half! This does not make me feel very comfortable as we’ve seen this kind of plate discipline wreck a guys potential. [See Francoeur] If he can not find a way to take a walk it could lead to a major step back. I will avoid him this year but, I understand why some will take the chance.
8. Matt Wieters
He has had 20 plus home runs the last three years, but his batting average and obp have not been impressive. He shows the ability to improve and catchers are often late bloomers. So he is a good choice if you miss out on top catchers or wait till late in single catcher leagues.
9. Salvador Perez
If you are looking for a breakout candidate Sal may be your man. He is young enough to take the next step, has shown the skills, and I think it is only a matter of time till he breaks out. He has the ability to hit .300 with 20 plus bombs.
10 Wilson Ramos
He could be a top catcher if he could stay on the field. 16 round trippers in under 300 at bats. With his good contact rate he could be an average helper, too. In single catcher leagues he is a great option as there will be good options on the free agent list if he can’t stay on the field.
11. Evan Gattis
El oso blanco forced his way into 354 at bats. The Braves let McCann walk so he will have a shot at 400 to 500 at bats and maybe more if the use him in left field again. Be aware that the Braves brought in Doumit and have Bethancourt climbing the organizatioal ladder. One or both may steal PA from the white bear. He is a great story and carries a big stick so 20 to 30 home runs are possible. We will see if he can handle the role or if he will end up chasing odd jobs again.
Keeper leagues are my favorite fantasy league to be a part of. There is always a reason to check your team, do research, and dream of your team taking home multiple titles. As a whole, I find that keeper leagues keep people’s attention which creates an environment favorable for trading. I have used this time of year to make trades that have pushed my teams to titles and also to build for the future. Just last year I found myself in no mans land in the rankings. I had a limited chance to make a run to just get in the money. I decided it would do me better to build for the future. It was time to have the great sell off. The thing you want to make sure of in your sell off is that you have a plan for the future.
How do you build that fantasy dynasty? First rule is to always build with position players. The amount of injuries that pitchers have along with the fact that there are very few pitchers who year in year out are great. The ones that are constantly good are already priced at a level that lessons their keeper value. Hitters have a much more steady track record. You still have the ups and downs with some(Jason Heyward), but there are many more hitters than pitchers sustaining a certain level of production.
Now that we are focused on hitters, lets look at your current keepers? Where are you strong, and where do you have holes? The last thing you want to do is handcuff yourself with 3 first basemen. Do not limit your roster flexibility, even though they may all be values. Find the positions you need to fill and then start looking for players that have good keeper value at that position. Hopefully, you will find one on a team in or near contention. Putting that team in the WIN NOW mode.
Next, you need to KNOW the team and the owner of the player you covet. No not who they are, but how they run their team, what type of players they like, what they think they need to win, and how much do they like the player you want. If this is a keeper league, you probably have been playing more than this year. If so, I always look back and try to see how that owner builds their rosters. Who they bid on. What kind of players they bid an extra $1 on. This will give you an idea of what type of player to offer them. Also, look at what trades they have made in the past. Have they given up young talent in the past to try to win now? Have they traded a star player for a closer before? Do they have a log jam at a position? Do they have a significant lead in a category? Is there a category where they are close to or bunched up with other teams. Last, is to find out how much they like the player you want and if there are any guys you have that they want. Its great when you get a chance to talk to the guys in your league about baseball. There is always information to be gleaned from these conversations. They want to tell you how this guy they drafted is amazing, or how they are not sure what to do with the three first basemen they have. People want to tell you their thoughts on their team. Let Them!!!
This seems like a lot of research, right? Well, yes it is. However, if you want to build that dynasty, you need to take the time to find a player with keeper value. One that will turn a profit for years. You then need to move players that are not going to have keeper value to you. Remember, for every team that is trying to rebuild there is one trying to WIN NOW. That guy does not care if he has to dump a bunch of players at the season’s end. His goal is to get that trophy, yahoo bath, bragging rights, or cold hard cash NOW. Help him win today, let him help you win next year, and the next year, and …
It is not easy to decide to rebuild. I had to make that choice last year in my Home league. It was time to rebuild after finishing in the money two out of the last three seasons and a near miss in the other. My team had some cap issues and contract issues. I had been that WIN NOW guy. Which is what you should be almost every year. I hate giving up. Even worse is looking at the standings for the last month and seeing my team drop to dead last. I ended with one of the leagues lowest point totals ever. It is worth it now as I have just moved into first place in that league. Amazing that one year ago I chose to rebuild and ended the season in dead last. I feel good about my team, and think I am set up for the next few years. However, I will be working those trading lines from the other side this year. Back in my WIN NOW mode!!!!
|6||Edwin Encarnacion||Blue Jays|
|16||Paul Konerko||White Sox|
I found their to be some big differences in opinions on Goldschmidt. ESPN’s mid May rankings http://espn.go.com/fantasy/baseball/story/_/page/2013mayranks1B/fantasy-baseball-first-base-rankings-rest-2013-season have his average ranking of 4th for 1B. Not counting Posey who I feel is much more valuable at catcher. Rotowire has him at ranked 3rd at 1B http://www.rotowire.com/baseball/playerrank.htm?pos=1B. However CBS has him ranked 6th by by Scott White, 9th by Al Melchior and 6th byNando Di Fino. I heard them discuss on their podcast last week that he is a top 8 maybe top 10 1B. Fantasy Baseball : Fantasy News
Goldschmidt has been a hitting machine since he went pro. I came into this season as a huge fan. I targeted him everywhere I could and it has paid off. If you look at his numbers for the two years he spent the minors, he hit 35 hr and .314 avg in high A then followed that up with a 30hr and .306 avg in AA. This does not include the 8 hr and a .250 avg over 177 PA in the Majors the second year. That is 73 hrs in his first two years as a pro. Was his rookie campaign a disappointment with a 20 hr and .286 avg. This would have been a much bigger deal in any year where there was not a Bryce Harper or a Mike Trout. They overshadowed him with their super powers and game changing numbers at 19 and 20 years of age. Yet, Goldschmidt is just 25, although compared to them he is old, he is just reaching his prime. He has a walk rate over 9.5% every year of his pro career and a 10.2% his rookie year. This year he has been at a 12.5% rate while decreasing his strikeout rate each of his last three seasons. This year it is down to a 21.8% K rate.
I believe he is only going to get better. Get him now if you can, especially in keeper leagues. I see him growing into a .300 40 hr 15 sb guy. Hitting in the middle of the line up and carrying a Babip that seems to be holding above .330 he will be a five category guy. These numbers at first base will warrant first round value next year. He has been absolute sold gold value this year with an ADP in the 8th round and an average auction price of $12. I think that this is NOT a sell high time if you have him, if you do not have him let someone think they are selling high. In keeper leagues, he may be the best long term 1st base keeper out there. You as always need to knew your rules to find his keeper value, but I am sure that what ever they are he will be a valuable keeper next year.
Please let me know how you feel about my rankings. I will gladly offer my reasons for any of the ranks.
In my long time keeper league I was set on getting Moustakas as my third baseman. I was out bid last year, but the price was to high for the owner to keep him. I still liked the skill and new the weak second half would bring his price down. I was thinking that this is chance to secure a possible long term third baseman at a great price. As the auction went, I was short on money when Moustakas was called out. Even then, I thought I could get him. He ended up going for an $8 bid which was more money then I could bid. After losing out on Frazier to the same guy that got Moustakas, it was end game time. That lead me to some Brave picks at third base.(Full disclosure, I am an Atlanta fan.)
I decided to use the deep bench we have in the league to get the Braves platoon. I got Francisco and Johnson for $1 each at the end. This league has daily changes and would allow me to follow the platoon. If I would have had Moustakas at third base my line would be near his line for third base. (.158, 1, 0, 2, 0) With my Brave platoon(as long as it lasted, as I have since dropped Johnson) I have a combined line of 21/63 .333, 5, 3, 8, 0. From Francisco, Johnson, and now Chisenhall.(I claimed him off waivers at $2)Note: I also bid $1 on Chisenhall and could not go $3.
So, Yes Frazier may have been better, but for now losing the bid on Moustakas has kept those .158 batting AVG. Mouse Tracks off my back. Then losing Chisenhall to the dreaded 2 bid late in the auction allowed me to miss his bad start and pick him up at $2 when someone gave up on him way to soon.
I was very upset at my third base position leaving the auction, but that was only one of two mistakes I felt I made at the auction. All and all I was very happy with my auction. Missing on Moustakas does not hurt as much anymore.(Okay, I feel great about it now, since the same guy out bid me two years in a row.)
All this talk about Moustakas has me feeling hungry, I think its time for a nice bowl of Mouse Tracks.
PS As I was getting ready to post this Francisco hit another HR!