Friday, February 28, 2014

Spring Training Game Wrap4/28/2014: A's 7 Giants 6

The Giants broke out in front of this one 6-0 behind the hitting of Gary Brown, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Hector Sanchez while Edwin Escobar pitched 2 scoreless innings.  The A's clawed their way back and won it in the 9'th on a WP by Heath Hembree.  Key Lines:

Gary Brown- 2 for 3,  BB, SB.  Excellent game from Brownie.  Let's hope this is the start of a big bounceback season for him.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 3, 3B.  Sabes thinks Crawford can take his offensive game to a new level this year.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 3, 2B.  Belt finally made an out in his 3'rd AB after starting the spring 4 for 4.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 4, 2B.  The Hector DH'd today.  I'm tellin' ya.  Give this kid some PT and he's gonna break out.

Edwin Escobar- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  Nice clean 2 innings from The Future.

Heath Hembree- 0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K.  Leadoff BB.  Advanced to 2B on a balk.  Comebacker error by Hembree.  WP lets the winning run in.  Rough outing for Hembree.  I don't know.  It's very early, but I have the feeling Hembree is already behind Derek Law and Erik Cordier for the last bullpen slot.

Spring Training Game Wrap 2/28/2014: Giants 4 Brewers 3

Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong pitched 2 scoreless innings each and Erik Cordier lit up the radar guns as the Giants hung on to edge the BrewCrew 4-3.  Key Lines:

Mark Minicozzi- 1 for 1, BB, HR.  Minicozzi is a long term minor leaguer still chasing the dream.  Will probably start the season in AA or AAA wherever he's needed.

Ehire Adrianza- 1 for 3, 3B.  Adrianza's name just keeps popping up in highlights.  He keeps this up and it will be awfully tough for the Giants to say the future isn't now.

Madison Bumgarner- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K.  Alex Pavlovic reports Bummy was sitting at 92 MPH.  Nice first outing for the big guy.  Afterwards he was razzing the reporters for not giving him the nice guy award last year.  LOL!

Ryan Vogelsong- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  Pavs had Vogey mostly at 88-89, hitting 90 once.  I'll take that for a first outing of the spring.  Is Vogey's intensity act flirting with self parody?

Erik Cordier- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  Cordier walked the first batter the blew threw the inning.  One radar gun had him hitting triple digits 4 times while another had him topping out at 97.  Hey! Either one sounds mighty fine to me!  Sleeper for bullpen spot?

Derek Law- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  The Giants seem to want Law to step up and grab a bullpen spot.  How many bullpen slots are there, again?

Around the League:

Josh Hamilton(Angels) was practicing running the bases, took one step and pulled up with a calf strain. He's been seen on crutches.  I think I'll stop promoting him as a bounceback candidate!

Zack Greinke(Dodgers) threw 4 pitches in his spring debut and came out with a calf strain.  He'll be missing his next bullpen session and next spring start.

Fantasy Focus: Jean Segura vs Elvis Andrus Smackdown

Jean Segura(Brewers) was the breakout SS story of last year giving fantasy owners who waited to take him near the end of their draft solid value across the board of fantasy categories.  There is veteran SS who was Jean Segura a few years ago and continues to put up similar numbers in subsequent seasons, Elvis Andrus(Rangers).  That Andrus can be acquired significantly later in fantasy drafts this year appears to be due to a classic case of Shiny New Toy Syndrome.  Here are the numbers:

Jean Segura:

2013:             74 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 44 SB, .294 BA, 623 PA.
2014(ZIPS):  70 R, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 35 SB, .284 BA, 580 PA.

Elvis Andrus:

2013:             91 R, 4 HR, 67 RBI, 42 SB, .271 BA, 698 PA.
2014(ZIPS):  84 R, 4 HR, 62 RBI, 35 SB, .273 BA, 699 PA.

While those double digit HR's by Segura look enticing and his season-long stat line looks terrific, keep in mind that he had a severe first-second half split with a putrid .241/.268/.315 slash line with just 1 dinger in the second half.  Andrus, on the other hand, has been putting up almost identical lines for at least 4 seasons now.

In Yahoo leagues, Segura is currently on average the 4'th SS off the board with an ADP of 43.4, 5'th round in 10 team leagues and 4'th round in 12 team leagues.  Andrus is the 7'th SS taken with an ADP of 85.7, 9'th round in 10 team leagues and early 8'th round in 12 team leagues.  Segura is requiring an average big of $24.5 in auctions while Andrus is going for $15.2.

My advice is if you want to target a SS in the first 5 rounds, go for the two time 20/20 guy, Ian Desmond.  If you think that is too rich for a SS, wait a couple or rounds or save yourself about $10 and target Andrus.  Note that it is much easier to target a specific player in an auction draft.  Of course, it would also be perfectly reasonable to wait out the draft for a SS and grab a Jed Lowrie, JJ Hardy or Jonathan Villar(who may well be this year's Jean Segura) in bargain basement time.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spring Training Game Wrap 2/26/2014: A's 10 Giants 5

It's always a bit deflating when the team you root for gets blown out in the spring training opener, but they ARE practice games!  Today Yusmeiro Petit and Sergio Romo got knocked around as the A's built a 10-0 lead by the middle of the 4'th inning.  Still, there are interesting performances to discuss in the game wrap.  Key Lines:

Brandon Belt- 2 for 2.  Belt got his spring off to a great start with a pair of singles and started a nifty DP from his 1B position.

Adam Duvall- 1 for 2, HR.  Duvall hit a monster shot over the CF fence which I am sure got the attention of the coaches and manager.

Michael Morse- 0 for 2.  Doesn't look like much in the boxscore, but Morse crushed two balls that Josh Reddick was able to pull down from above the 10 foot high fence in RF, both were remarkable catches in their own right, but doing it twice was quite the feat for Reddick who seems to have a burgeoning reputation for making catches like that.  Anyway, the important part is Morse is healthy, happy and mashing the ball.

Ehire Adrianza- 1 for 2, HR.  Let's see, Since his callup last September, Adrianza, who isn't supposed to have any stick at all, has taken Andy Pettitte deep in Yankee Stadium, gone deep to RF off Yusmeiro Petit in live batting practice and now has hit a 3 run dinger in the opening spring training game.  The conventional wisdom is that Adrianza has the premier IF defense, but Tony Abreu has the power edge in their battle for the final reserve IF role.  Adrianza is clearly challenging that wisdom and delivered a major throwdown today.

Juan Perez- 1 for 1, 2B.  Juan Perez also served notice that he is not going to role over and play dead in the battle with Tyler Colvin for the 5'th OF role.

Yusmeiro Petit- 1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.  Petit did not pitch well and did not get any help from his D as there were a couple of miscues behind him.  Pitchers are allowed to have a bad outing or two in the Cactus League, but you don't want to see a steady diet of bombings in spring training.

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  Romo did not throw any sliders as he was working on his change up.  It looks like it needs the work.

Kameron Loe pitched 2 scoreless IP while Rafael Dolis, Heath Hembree and Jean Machi threw a scoreless inning each as the Giants did not allow a run past the 4'th inning.

David Huff was scratched from his start on Friday due to a sore shoulder.

Around the League:  Clayton Kershaw gave up 3 runs on 5 hits in 2 IP against the D'Backs.  Hmm….didn't Kershaw get slapped around by the Cardinals in his last start of last season?  Just a thought.  I know the baseball gods are going to punish me for even thinking it!

Spring Training Update: Pitching Prospects Rule Intrasquad Game

The Giants held their annual spring training intrasquad game yesterday.  Covechatter watched it on his iPad and has a full report on his site linked to the left.  It was actually more of a showcase all-star game for the Giants minor league prospects, but was so much fun they extended it from a planned 3 inning affair to 4 innings that ended in a scoreless tie.  If you know about the Giants farm system, it comes as no surprise that pitching and defense ruled the day with Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar, Clayton Blackburn, Kendry Flores, Ty Blach, Derek Law, Jose Casilla and Brett Bochy all pitching scoreless frames.  Blackburn looked particularly sharp based on reports from multiple sources.  Covechatter was also impressed by Flores and Blach, not to take anything away from the other participating pitchers.

Defense was also on display as C Trevor Brown made a nice catch over the dugout railing of a foul pop, Brown made a nice sliding catch in CF and Blanco made a terrific catch down in the corner that has become almost his signature play.  In the last frame, Juan Perez tracked down drive in the alley by Chris Dominguez and started a relay that cut down a runner at the plate with Andrew Susac laying down the swipe tag.  Hey!  I think that's more fun to watch than a home plate collision any day!

Gary Brown made the sliding catch and had a single, but fell asleep on the basepaths and got doubled of first on a  pop-up behind SS.

MLB takes, in my opinion, two major steps forward this season with a new rule banning most home plate collisions.  That is something that is way overdue and should not detract from the game in any way.  There may be some grumbling from time to time about runners scoring who should not have, but in the long run, it should even out for all teams.  It should also cut down on injuries and keep the best players on the field more, which is also good for the game.

Instant replay has also been expanded. We'll see how it works out, but in my opinion, instant replay offers improved accuracy in calling the plays, and the emphasis should be on getting the call right.

First exhibition game of a too long spring schedule today.  There is an off day tomorrow, so Yusmeiro Petit will get the start.  Most of the pitching prospects went yesterday, so expect to see a lot of the guys in camp on minor league deals taking the mound.  While preparation for the season is important, most of the Giants roster doesn't need more than about 2 weeks of games to get ready.  The emphasis for the rest of the spring needs to be in keeping guys strong and healthy.

On the injury front, Angel Pagan was back on the field yesterday after tweaking his back.  He likely won't play until the weekend at the earliest.  Marco Scutaro continues to take it slow.  Bruce Bochy does not want to burn out Buster Posey's legs early, so we won't see him before the weekend, either.

First Spring Training Game Wrap later today.  Play ball!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fantasy Focus: Billy Hamilton vs Ben Revere Smackdown

Stolen Bases and Saves are the two most problematic categories in fantasy baseball for similar reasons.  The players who give you value in those categories tend to not give much in other categories.  Guys in my league chase those 1 or 2 guys who will win SB's for them so they can ignore that parameter when drafting other offensive players.   Billy Hamilton's base stealing prowess in the minor leagues is legendary and why not?  Dude stole 155 bases in just one season!  On the other hand, questions remain about the bat and whether it will play in the majors.  Ben Revere is another guy who steals a lot of bases, maybe not as many as Hamilton, but he may give you more Average and Runs than Hamilton which makes him a 3 category player as opposed to Hamilton's possible 2.  Here are their basic stat lines:

Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds.  6'0", 160 lbs.  B-S, T-R.  DOB: 9/9/1990.

2013(AAA):  75 R, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 75 SB, .256 BA, .308 OBP, 547 PA.
2013(MLB):  9 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 13 SB, .368 BA, 22 PA's, 13 Games.

13 SB's in 13 games and just 22 PA's.  Just ignore the BA for a second, which is clearly unrealistic due to sample size.  If Billy Hamilton was used only as a pinch runner and nothing else, he just might steal 100 bases and score 80 runs!  If you send him up to the plate 4-5 times per game and he can get the ball on the ground half the time, he might be a lock to steal 120 bases and score 100 runs!  On the other hand, if he's in the lineup every day, he's no lock to get on base every game whereas as a pinch runner, you could guarantee he would be on base at least once per game and you could pick the spot where you put him on!  Of course, not every game will produce a situation where a pinch runner, even one of his caliber, would make a difference in the game.  The sticking point with Billy is his .308 OBP in AAA and a similar number in the AFL.  Will he even crack .300 in a full MLB season?

Ben Revere, OF, Phillies.  5'9", 170 lbs.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  5/3/1988.

2013:  37 R, 0 HR, 17 RBI, 22 SB, .305 BA, OBP .338, 336 PA.

Revere was in the middle of his best season, by far when he tore up his ankle which limited him to 88 games.  Up to that point, he had improved his BA each month of the season after a slow start.  He was on pace to steal 40 bases at the time of his injury.  He reportedly is fully healed and penciled in to be the Phillies starting CF and leadoff batter in 2014.

Now, let's take a look at 2014 projections.  I'll use ZIPS.

Hamilton:  73 R, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 68 SB, .264 BA, 605 PA.  I find the HR/RBI to be optimistic.  He never hit more than 2 in a season prior to last year.  The rest of the projection is quite believable.

Revere:  62 R, 1 HR, 31 RBI, 34 SB, .288 BA, 530 PA.  Although he has yet to hit 500 PA's in a season, as the starting CF and leadoff hitter for the Phillies, 530 is extremely conservative.  I am quite confident that it will either be over 600, or a lot less than 530 due to injury.  That gets his projection to about equal Runs and over 40 SB's even if you expect some regression in BA/OBP.  There is pretty good evidence that Revere is still on the upward trajectory of his career so a regression is not set in stone.

Billy Hamilton's ADP in Yahoo leagues is currently 68.5 which put him in the 6'th round in 10 team leagues and the 5'th round in 12 team leagues.  Revere's ADP is 207.7 putting him in round 20 in 10 team leagues and round 17 in 12 team leagues.  Hamilton is commanding an average of $15.7 in auctions while Revere can be had for under $2 or less.

Which player you target in your draft, if either, depends on your strategy. If you want to take a risk with your relatively high draft pick or with over 5% of your auction budget to get that one player who might win you the steals category all by himself, then Billy Hamilton is the one guy in the draft who has a chance to do that.  you will likely have to make up for the losses in at least 3 other categories.  Revere likely won't give you the overwhelming SB numbers, but is a safer bet with virtually no risk from the investment side and a probability of helping you in 3 offensive categories.

Scouting the Draft: Grahamm Wiest

CS Fullerton has 2 sophomore pitchers lined up for their Friday and Saturday starts so junior Grahamm Wiest, who would be a Friday Starter for many college teams goes on Sundays for the second straight year.  Wiest was overlooked in the 2011 draft due to velocity concerns.  I haven't been able to find any definite velocity numbers for him, but my feeling is he is probably in the 88-90 MPH range.  He does have a 4 pitch repertoire and can throw all of them for strikes.  He did say in one interview he likes to establish the FB early.  In one brief game video, it looked like he had a sinker with fairly strong late downward movement.  Here are his numbers from his first two seasons at CS Fullerton and the first 2 games of 2014:

2012:  5-5, 3.12, 86.2 IP, 18 BB, 57 K.
2013:  9-3, 3.27, 104.2 IP, 13 BB, 76 K.
2014:  1-0, 0.55, 16.1 IP, 1 BB, 17 K.

Wiest would be a consideration in the later single digit rounds of the 2014 draft.  Whether he would sign or choose to stay in school for his senior season, I have no idea.  Ceiling is probably AAA but you never know.  A few of these guys sneak into the majors and have good, long careers.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fantasy Focus: Eric Hosmer vs Brandon Belt Smackdown

Eric Hosmer and Brandon Belt are very similar players who play the same position, first base, and are both entering their 4'th MLB seasons, but are being treated vastly different in fantasy drafts.  First the basic profiles:

Eric Hosmer, KC Royals.  B-L, T-L.  6'4", 220 lbs.  DOB:  10/24/1989.  Drafted First Round, 3'rd overall in the 2008 draft(the Posey draft).

2013:  86 R, 17 HR, 79 RBI, 11 SB, .302 BA, 623 PA.  7.5% BB, 14.7% K, BABIP .335.

Brandon Belt, SF Giants.  B-L, T-L. 6'5", 220 lbs.  DOB:  4/20/1988.  Drafted in 5'th round, 2009.

2013:  76 R, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 5 SB, .289 BA, 509 PA.  9.1% BB, 21.9% K, BABIP .351.

Hosmer strikes out significantly less, but also walks significantly less.  They both had high BABIPs with Belt's being a little higher.  If you normalize Belt's PA's to 620 to equal Hosmer's, his counting stats go up to 95 R, 21 HR, 87 RBI.  As you can see, a lot of Belt's projected value depends on how much more PT you think he's going to get.

Let's take a look at their 2014 ZIPS projections:

Eric Hosmer:  81 R, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 11 SB, .296 BA, 657 PA.

Brandon Belt:  73 R, 16 HR, 70 RBI, 9 SB, .264 BA, 562 PA.

Hosmer's numbers have remained remarkably stable over his first 3 seasons, so his projection is not surprising.  ZIPS appears to not take into account that Belt's numbers,including PA's, have improved significantly each season up to this point.  While Mike Morse has taken ground balls at 1B already this spring and Buster Posey still may need to take a day or two there here and there, I would be surprised if Belt's PA's don't take another significant jump this year, especially if he breaks out offensively like his second half of last year suggests he might.

Another factor to consider is ground ball rates.  Although Hosmer gets more opportunities to build counting stats by keeping his walks and K's down, he also hits a ton of balls into the ground producing a whopping 2.11 GB/FB.  Each of those GB's reduce his HR opportunity by 1 PA.   Hosmer needed a 13% HR/FB to produce his 17 HR's last year.  On the other hand, Belt has no problem getting the ball in the air.  His GB/FB was a mere 0.83 while his HR/FB was a very sustainable 10.6.  Personally, if I'm going to bet on a guy taking his power numbers to the next level, I'll take the guy who can get the ball in the air.

Hosmer is currently being drafted at an ADP of 70 in Yahoo drafts putting him at the end of round 7 in traditional 10 team leagues and in round 6 in 12 team leagues.  In auctions he is costing an average of $17.7.  Belt is currently not being taken until the 150'th pick on average putting him at the end of round 15 in 10 team leagues and in the 12'th round in 12 team leagues.  His average cost in auctions is $5.9.  I drafted him for $2 in a recent mock auction draft.

If you are in the middle of a fantasy draft and get the feeling you need to jump on Eric Hosmer, consider that you cam get the same player several rounds later or will have the opportunity to bid on Belt at a greatly reduced rate later in your auction.

Scouting the Draft: Brandon Downes

While Virginia teammate Derek Fisher has gotten all the ink as a first round draft prospect, Brandon Downes may actually be the stronger prospect from this year's Cavaliers squad.  Downes is a junior who  plays CF in college.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 200 lbs.  Downes served notice Friday night with 2 solo HR's off uber-pitching prospect, Jeff Hoffman of East Carolina to lead Virginia to a 3-2 win.  Here are Downes' stat lines from the last two seasons:

2012:  .321/.419/.453, 7 2B, 2 3B, HR, 3 SB, 15 BB, 27 K in 106 AB.

2013:  .316/.393/.569, 20 2B, 7 3B, 10 HR, 6 SB, 27 BB, 60 K in 253 AB.

Downes led the team in HR's in 2013 with 37 of his 80 hits going for extra bases.  He tends to strike out a lot which may limit his ceiling in the pros.  Downes is a name to keep in mind in the later single digit rounds of the 2014 draft.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Spring Training Update: Giants Sign Tyler Colvin; Barry Bonds Will Be In Camp

There were a couple of notable news items from Spring Training today.  First, the Giants signed former first round draft pick Tyler Colvin to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.  Colvin is coming off a terrible season with the Rockies in which he hit just .160 in 78 PA's, and was hampered by back problems.  Earlier in the offseason, he signed a deal with the Baltimore Orioles but failed his physical, something the O's have now developed a reputation for.  Word to the wise:  If you are sitting on any hint of a medical problem in your history, you best not sign with the Orioles!

Colvin, who was the Cubs #13 overall pick in the 2006 draft(that was the Timmy draft, BTW), has run hot and cold so far in his MLB career.  His terrible season last year was preceded by a line of .290/.327/.531 with 18 HR in 452 PA's for the Rockies in 2012.  Prior to that, his MLB career seemed to be ready for takeoff in 2010 when he posted a .254/.316/.500 line with 20 HR's in 395 PA's for the Cubs.  He fell flat on his face in 2011 with a .150/.204/.306 line in jut 222 PA's in 2011.

Prior to the Colvin signing, Juan Perez appeared to have the inside track at the 5'th OF job.  That has now been thrown open to competition.  I would not bet against Colvin.  No matter what his other numbers have been, he's always had pop in his bat, something the Giants are sorely lacking from their bench.  Perez having options does not help his cause here.

The Giants also announced that Barry Bonds will be attending Spring Training as a Special Instructor for hitting.  The plan if for him to work with some of the younger hitters.  The Brandons and Tyler Colvin are 3 names that come immediately to mind as younger players who might benefit from a few sessions with BB.

Around the League:  The Baltimore Orioles made  a late jump into the free agent market by signing Ubaldo Jimenez to a 4 year/$50 M contract.  Jimenez accepted less per season than the $14 M QO he turned down from the Cleveland Indians in return for long term financial security.  I don't know.  $14 M would give ME long term financial security, but I can see why this is a better deal for Ubaldo.  I'm very skeptical of the deal from Baltimore's standpoint.  Not only do they lose their first round draft pick, but they are not obligated for the next 4 years to a player who has run hot and cold in his career.

Having already sacrificed their first round pick, there was absolutely no reason for the O's to think twice about dumping their second rounder for Nelson Cruz on a 1 year/$8 M deal.  This has to be a severe disappointment to Cruz who turned down a $14 M QO and was asking for a 5 year/$75 M deal early in the offseason.  Undoubtedly his involvement with the PED suspensions did not work to his advantage, but this deal is a steal for the Orioles despite his poor D.  Camden Yards is a hitter's ballpark much like Arlington Stadium.  I think you can pencil Cruz in for 25 dingers in 2014.

Yasiel Puig reportedly came to camp 27 lbs heavier than he finished the season last year. Bwahahahaha!!!.

PS:  Willie Mays showed up in the clubhouse today and was talkin' baseball with the Giants current CF Angel Pagan.

Fantasy Focus: Starling Marte vs Leonys Martin Smackdown

Starling Marte and Leonys Martin are similar players who from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers respectively.  They are both international players with Marte coming up from the DR and Martin coming out of Cuba.  They are within 1 year in age and both made their MLB debut in 2012 and played their first full seasons in 2013 while putting up similar numbers.  There is a large difference in where they are being drafted in early 2014 fantasy drafts.  Here is a a statistical capsule for both players using the common fantasy stats:

Starling Marte, OF.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 185 lbs.  DOB:  10/9/1988.

2013:  83 R, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 41 SB, .280 BA, 566 PA.  Those numbers came with a .363 BABIP, a 4.4 BB% and a 24.4 K%.  He hit .291 in the first half and .254 in the second half.  He missed some games midseason with an injury.

Leonys Martin, OF.  B-L, T-R.  6'2", 190 lbs.  DOB:  3/6/1988.

2013:  66 R, 8 HR, 49 RBI, 36 SB, .260 BA, 508 PA.  Those numbers came with a .319 BAPIP, a 5.5 BB% and a 20.5 K%.  He also had a regression in the second half going from a .283 BA to .238.

2014 Projections(ZIPS):

Marte:  82 R, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 29 SB, .265 BA, 583 PA, .335 BABIP.

Martin:  55 R, 9 HR, 48 RBI, 25 SB, .264 BA, 451 PA, .312 BABIP.

Notice the differences in PA's and BABIP.  Martin played most of last season in a platoon with Craig Gentry, but the Rangers traded Gentry to the A's clearing the way for Martin to play everyday.  If you normalize Martin's numbers to a PA of 583, you get 70 R, 12 HR, 62 RBI, 32 SB.  You also have to ask yourself if Marte's BABIP might not regress more than to .335.  On the other hand, Ron Washington has penciled Martin in as the 9'th batter in the Rangers lineup while Marte will likely bat leadoff for Pittsburgh.  That will suppress Martin's PA's but about 100 compared to Marte although that will likely be mitigated somewhat by a higher rate of lineup turnover for the Rangers.  Martin should get more RBI opportunities batting 9'th in a DH lineup than Marte will leading off in an NL lineup.

Starling Marte's current ADP is 55.7 overall in early Yahoo drafts.  That would be 6'th round in 10 team leagues and 5'th round in 12 team leagues.  His average auction price is $21.7.

Leonys Martin's current Yahoo ADP is 160, at the end of round 16 in 10 team leagues and in the 14'th round in 12 team leagues. His average auction price is $3.9.

Conclusion:  Starling Marte and Leonys Martin are similar players who's main value is their SB's, but give you a little more power than some other SB specialists will give you.  Their 2014 numbers are likely to be insignificantly different across the board.  Martin is the far better value at his current ADP's and auction prices.

Friday, February 21, 2014


As we wait for the Cactus League season to start, I thought it might be a good time to do a All Questions Answered post since it's been a long time.  Ask any baseball related question in the comments thread Giants, prospects, draft, college, fantasy?  I will do my best to answer it.

Spring Training Update: News and Notes

We're still in the "Best Shape of His Life" phase of spring training, but things are starting to settle in with the first live BP.  We already know the answers to several key questions that needed to be answered by the start of the season.  Here are some semi-random items.

Pablo Sandoval does indeed appear to be in the Best Shape of His Life.  That's actually not saying much, but you give Pablo even a slight edge and who knows what his ceiling may be?  By all reports I've seen, Pablo looks terrific and seems to be in it for the long haul as he now has a support system consisting of his brother Michael who seems to have taken on a role of Life Coach or some such thing, a personal trainer and his other brother Raul who has become his personal healthy cooking chef.  As for Pablo, he attributes his newfound fitness and health approach to simply having grown up with the help of some tough love advice from several teammates including Buster Posey, Matt Cain and Hunter Pence.  IMO, a healthy, productive Pablo is a big key to the upcoming season and we're off to an encouraging start to that part of the journey.

On a lesser note, Hector Sanchez is also reported to be in the Best Shape of His Life.  This is also a key because IMO, not having him available at the beginning of last season contributed to Buster Posey's overwork and grinding him down physically which contributed to his offensive collapse in the second half.

Early reports on Tim Lincecum sound encouraging.  He spent the offseason doing a lot of throwing.  It always makes me nervous when Timmy tries a new approach, but maybe that's what he needed.  As long as he maintains the other aspects of his nutrition and fitness program that he started last year, he should be OK

Michael Morse seems to be in perfect health and was already taking pitchers deep in live batting practice.  A strong offensive rebound would be a huge boost to the Giants playoff chances and a sweet thumb of the nose to critics of his signing.

Reports on Marco Scutaro are more mixed.  His finger seems to be fixed and he says he feels good, but there is some reason why he is taking it slow at the beginning of camp.  Oh well, as we said in a prior post, Spring Training is way too long anyway.

Ehire Adrianza made a statement in his battle with Tony Abreu to gain a roster spot.  He went deep in live BP from the left side of the plate of Yusmeiro Petit.  You may recall that he took Andy Pettitte deep late last season from the right side of the plate.  Abreu has been thought to have the offensive edge in the battle due to possessing more power, but Adrianza may be chipping away at that notion.  Adrianza is working out at 2B to expand his usefulness off the bench.  He has played the position at times in the minors and it should not be a difficult adjustment.  Just a thought:  The Toronto Blue Jays have a desperate situation at 2B and may be a trade fit or either Abreu or Adrianza.  Personally, I hate the thought of losing Adrianza's long term upside to the organization.

This is interesting:  Sergio Romo is in the final year of control of his contract and there are apparently no discussions regarding extending his contract into his free agency years.  Romo is 31 years old.

Brandon Belt is a happy man in the wake of signing his first $ million contract, $2.9 M to be exact.  Even if he does not have the breakout season many are expecting, Belt stands to make many more $ millions in the game.  While both sides are vocally open to a long term extension, Belt's situation is much more complicated than Buster Posey's or Matt Cain or Hunter Pence's due to the wide variation in his possible career trajectories.  Whether he signs a long term extension or not, Belt's contract is under Giants control for the next 4 years, which is a lifetime in baseball.  Pablo Sandoval's situation is likely a much more pressing concern and the Giants have a tough decision to make about how much they trust Pablo's newfound self-discipline.

Barring injury, there are just 4 lower level roster spots open for competition this spring, which is the way is should be.  They are 5'th OF, second reserve IF and 2 RP slots.  Juan Perez is the clear frontrunner for the 5'th OF slot with Roger Kieschnick in the mix.  The second reserve IF slot probably comes down to Adrianza vs Abreu and they both are out of options, so a trade for one of them is a strong possibility.  The two frontrunners for the last 2 RP slots would seem to be Heath Hembree and Jean Machi, who is also reported to be in the Best Shape of His Life.  They will be trying to hold off a large contingent of other bullpen hopefuls.

Lastly and sadly, Covechatter uncovered some discouraging news on Gustavo Cabrera who, according to Andy Baggarly, recently had a checkup in Arizona.  Baggs take is that there is almost no chance Gustavo plays at all this season.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Dominican Dandies Part II

We'll wrap up the Dominican Dandies and the entire Top 50 Prospect series with 6 RHP's from last year's DSL squad.  I don't have any scouting reports on any of these guys.  Remember that age vs level is a big deal here so Raffi Vizcaino may be the best prospect of the bunch even if he did not have the most impressive numbers.

Eusebio Encarnacion, RHP.  5'11", 170 lbs.  DOB:  8/6/1994.
DSL:  5-1, 1.72, 68 IP, 12 BB, 49 K.

Jose Morel, RHP.  6'2", 190 lbs.  DOB:  9/6/1993.
6-0, 1.22, 59 IP, 6 BB, 55 K, 6 Saves.

Raffi Vizcaino, RHP.  6'1", 195 lbs.  DOB:  12/2/1995.
0-3, 3.80, 47.1 IP, 17 BB, 41 K.

Cesar Yanez, RHP.  6'5", 175 lbs.  DOB:  9/30/1994.
1-2, 2.23, 32.1 IP, 15 BB, 32 K.

Luis Castillo, RHP.  6''2", 170 lbs.  12/2/1992.
0-1, 0.64, 28.2 IP, 3 BB, 34 K, 20 Saves.

Michael Santos, RHP.  6'4", 170 lbs.  DOB:  5/29/1995.
1-2, 2.75, 19.2 IP, 6 BB, 18 K.  Santos has an intriguing combination of age and size.  His season came to an abrupt end after his 4'th start on June 18.  Gotta assume an injury, most likely UCL/TJ.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More Thoughts on Park and League Factors

Of all the discussions about park and league factors as they impact Giants minor leaguers, none have generated as much heat or as little light as the AA Eastern League and their ballpark in Richmond, VA.  The official minor league baseball website recently ran a series of articles comparing park and league factors for all of the minor leagues.  For people wanting a quick and dirty comp between leagues, OPS became a an easy and superficial target.  When comparing league OPS numbers in a vacuum, the EL comes out somewhere in the middle, and much better than say, the Low A South Atlantic League.  Hey, maybe the EL isn't so terrible for hitters after all?  But, if that is the case, why to the Giants hitting prospects all go their to die?

First, lets's review a couple of other factors at work here:  1.  Young hitters do not hit as many HR's in their teens as they will in their mid-20's because their bodies have not matured yet.  They just don't have the strength to jack those balls out of the park yet!  This can be seen in the very strong trend of lower OPS's and HR% in the lower minors.  2.  Age vs League.  While a 1 year difference in age between two prospects is negligible, a 3 year difference is huge due mainly to the aforementioned body maturity.   Who your prospects are playing against is an extremely important factor in any analysis.  Of course, they would be expected to perform better against players who are closer to their own age.

It has always been my impression that the league batting leaguers in the Eastern League in particular are historically made up mostly of older prospects who are no longer serious prospects, but are still hanging around the minors keeping the dream alive, collecting a paycheck and providing competition for the true prospects.  Two examples that come immediately to mind are Javier Herrera and Mark Minicozzi from last year's Richmond Flying Squirrels team.  Do you think it is an accident or chance that those two were the top hitters on their team and the #2 and 3 hitters in the league by OPS?  Well, they were age 28 and 30 respectively, in the middle of what most analysts believe a ballplayer's peak years of productivity are.  I decided to do a comparison of the top hitters by OPS for the AA EL and the Low A SAL to see if my theory held up.  Here is what I found:

7 of the top 10 hitters by OPS in the EL last year were age 26 or over.  The average age of the top 10 hitters by OPS in the league was 26.4 compared to an overall league average age of 24.4.  

5 of the top 10 hitters by OPS in the SAL were age 20 or under with the average age of the top 10 hitters by OPS of 21.4.  The overall league average age is just under 22, I believe it is 21.7 to be exact.  The average age of the top 10 hitters by OPS in the SAL was slightly under the league average age.

What does this all mean?  A superficial glance at league OPS would lead you to believe that the SAL is a tougher league for hitters, when you factor in age vs level into the equation, you can see that an age appropriate prospect is competing against players who are relatively much older in the EL as compared to the SAL.  An age appropriate hitting prospect in the SAL will have an easier job than an age appropriate hitter in the Eastern League.  

I believe this is the best explanation for why age appropriate Giants hitting prospect struggle so much in the AA Eastern League and why for an age appropriate hitting prospect, the EL is the toughest league to get past.

Hot Stove Update: Brandon Belt and the Giants Avoid Arbitration

The last piece of unfinished business from the Hot Stove League got wrapped up late last night as Brandon Belt and the Giants avoided an arbitration hearing while agreeing to a 1 year contract of $2.9 M. a compromise which is about $200 K on the Belt side of splitting the difference between the Giants offer and Belt's asking price.  Giants GM Brian Sabean indicated prior to the agreement that the Giants are interested in a long term contract with Belt, but said that they needed to get the 1 year deal done first  as a starting point for discussions about a longer term deal.

Arriving at an agreement for a long term deal may be difficult for both sides as Belt is widely mentioned as a potential "breakout" player for 2014.  The Giants are understandably not going to want to pay Belt based on a potential breakout season that has yet to occur on the field while Belt's camp may not want to settle for less than that and miss out on the huge payday that could come after such a season.

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Dominican Dandies Part I

The Dominican Summer League is unique in that many of the players are a full year or even 2 years younger than the youngest players drafted out of high school.  This creates problems with trying to rank all but the most elite of the international prospects.  A few years ago we created a separate category of prospect we named after the original Dominican Dandy, the incomparable Juan Marichal.  Here are some of the top names from the 2013 team:

Gustavo Cabrera, OF.  B-R, T-R.  6' 2", 190 lbs.  DOB 1/23/1996.
DSL:  .247/.379/.360, 7 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 30 BB, 54 K, 21 SB, 186 AB.  Gustavo was widely ranked as having the top tools of the 2012 international signing period.  The big question was with the hit tool. The above numbers might not strike you as anything special, but look at his second half slash line:  .314/.477/.500!  SSS, but that is darn good for any league and off the charts in the DSL where the pitchers tend to be way ahead of the hitters in their development.

Then, just after the season, disaster struck!  Cabrera put his hand through a plate glass window or glass table in his home and was flown to the U.S. for emergency surgery to repair a severe laceration of his right wrist.  At this point, we do not know if the injury included nerve damage, but from the published descriptions, it is hard to imagine that it did not.  Recovery estimates have ranged from him being ready in time for the start of short season ball to a full calendar year.  I have not seen any recent reports of his rehab progress.

Had it not been for the injury, I would have ranked Gustavo #2 in the Top 50.  With the injury being so serious, I don't think you can really rank him at all until he proves he's recovered and can play.  Not wanting to ignore him completely, I decided to discuss him in the Dominican Dandies section.  Just keep your fingers crossed and send up a prayer or thought for his complete recovery, because this kid is a special talent.

Natanial Javier, 3B.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 185 lbs.  DOB: 10/10/1995.
DSL:  .229/.276/.326, 13 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 12 BB, 43 K, 236 AB.  Javier was the other big international signing for the Giants from 2012.  It's hard to imagine a worse start for a touted prospect.  First, he put up the above slash line in his pro debut, then was slapped with a 50 game suspension for violated the substance policy.  Assuming the suspension begins with the start of the DSL season in June, he will miss most or all of the 2014 season which is huge from a development standpoint.

Jean Angomas, OF.  B-L, T-R.  6'0", 175 lbs.  DOB 6/5/1995.
DSL:  .286/.384/.383, 7 2B, 5 3B, 9 SB, 25 BB, 17 K, 175 AB.  Less heralded than Cabrera or Javier, Angomas may end up being the top prospect from the Giants 2012 international signing class just by default.  Showed nice plate discipline for such a young age and power may come as his body matures.

Carlos Valdez, OF.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 180 lbs.  DOB:  6/22/1994.
DSL:  .273/.377/.474, 5 HR, 20 BB, 22 K, 132 AB.  Brought his BA up from the .220's in his second DSL campaign.  Hopefully it will be enough to earn him a promotion to Arizona for 2014.

Kleiber Rivas, C.  B-L, T-R.  5'11", 200 lbs. DOB:  6/22/1995.
DSL:  .250/.358/.371, 2 HR, 19 BB, 15 K, 116 AB.  Still young even though this was a repeat year in the DSL.  Again, hopefully this earns him a promotion to Arizona.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part VII

Note:  After researching Leonardo Fuentes a bit more, I decided to drop him from the HM list.  3'rd tour through the AZL and still striking out close to 50% of the time isn't going to get it done.

Cristian Paulino, OF.  B-R, T-R.  5'10", 168 lbs.  DOB 9/4/1991.
AZL:  .307/.358/.475, 2 HR, 13 SB, 101 AB.  Can he finally break out of the AZL on the strength of this performance?

Craig Massoni, 1B.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 215 lbs.  DOB: 10/29/1991.
AZL:  .272/.401/.384, 2 HR, 19 BB, 29 K, 125 AB.  Great numbers from a small college program.  OK here.  Will have to battle for a spot on the Augusta roster.

Dusten Knight, RHP.  6'0", 185 lbs.  DOB:  9/7/1990.
AZL:  5-1, 1.13, 32 IP, 11 BB, 43 K, 2 Saves, GO/AO= 2.00.  Older reliever.  Good numbers.

Carlos Alvarado, RHP.  6'4", 175 lbs.  DOB:  10/22/1989.
AZL:  2-0, 2.20, 28.2 IP, 6 BB, 37 K, 5 Saves.  Older international guy who was previously in the Detroit organization.  Identitygate?  We'll see if he can move up to a higher level in 2014.

Eury Sanchez, RHP.  5'10", 170 lbs. DOB:  11/8/1992.
AZL:  1-0, 1.13, 16 IP, 4 BB, 26 K, 7 Saves.  The Giants like their big pitchers, but will take them in any size and shape.  Sanchez was a lockdown closer for the Rookie Giants

Nick Gonzalez, LHP.  6'4", 220 lbs.  DOB:  6/26/1992.
2-1, 1.04, 17.1 IP, 3 BB, 17 K, 1 Save.  Love the size.  Needs to get ahead of the logjam an pitch at a higher level.

Nick Vander Tuig, RHP:  6'3", 190 lbs. 12/9/1991.
AZL:  0-0, 0.00, 1 IP, 0 BB, 2 K.  High A:  0-0, 11.57, 2.1 IP, 2 BB, 3 K.  Short Season:  0-0, 13.50, 6.2 IP, 2 BB, 5 K.  Friday starter for elite college program.  Rough start to pro career most likely due to grueling college playoff and World Series schedule, but he wouldn't be the first college pitchability guy to fall flat on his face in the pros.  One of the more intriguing story lines for the 2014 season. Where does he get assigned and how does he perform?

That wraps the Honorable Mention section of the Top 50 Prospects rundown.  We'll try to get the Dominican Dandies done before the first exhibition game.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fantasy Focus: Mike Trout vs Miguel Cabrera Smackdown

The top tier of MLB players, at least from a fantasy baseball perspective, has been shrinking for several years now.  This year we find just 2 players separating themselves from the pack, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera.  While the gap between them and #3 is wide, they are running 1,2 in traditional drafts and neck-and-neck in auctions.  I thought it would be fun to kick off what I hope will be a running series of Smackdown posts with a super-smackdown between the top 2 fantasy players.  First the basic stats:

Mike Trout, OF, 22 yo.  3'rd full MLB season.  Yahoo ADP 1.2, $61.

2012:  .326/.399/.564, 30 HR, 49 SB, 129 R, 83 RBI
2013:  .323/.432/.557, 27 HR, 33 SB, 109 R, 97 RBI
2014(ZIPS Projection):  .300/.403/.535, 29 HR, 43 SB, 119 R, 95 RBI

Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, 31 yo,   full MLB season.  Yahoo ADP 2.1, $60.5.

2012:  .330/.393/.606, 44 HR, 4 SB, 109 R, 139 RBI.
2013:  .348/.442/.636, 44 HR, 3 SB, 103 R, 137 RBI.
2014(ZIPS Projection):  .317/.404/.581, 38 HR, 92 R, 119 RBI.

Trout is quite clearly #1 in traditional drafts whereas it's a much closer call in auctions.  It is also a no-brainer in keeper leagues(he's probably not even available in most keeper leagues) since he is much younger, probably has not reached his peak and has more peak years ahead of him if he has.   Cabrera probably still has 2-3 peak years in him, which makes it a much closer call in re-draft leagues where it comes down to whether you want the extra elite SB category you get from Trout or the stronger average and power numbers you get from Cabrera.

You generally are not looking at position value at the top of a draft, where you just want the best player available.  In this situation, where the numbers are so close, position value may become a factor.  Cabrera will have dual eligibility in 2014, but will undoubtedly be rostered as a 3B in most leagues.  I would say there is probably less of a gap between Trout and Andrew McCutchen than there is between Cabrera and the second tier of 3B and OF is generally a deeper position than 3B.  In traditional drafts, it probably does not matter, since Andrew McCutchen won't be there when you get back to #20 or 24 depending on the size of your league.  In auctions, you have the theoretical option of drafting Trout plus McCutchen or Cabrera + McCutchen or even Trout + Cabrera if you want to go extreme stars and scrubs!  Of course, it is very likely that you should not be investing $60 in any player, no matter how good, in a standard auction draft!  IMO, position value slightly favors Cabrera, at least in 2014 redraft leagues.

Trout probably comes with a higher injury risk.  Cabrera is starting to get old, but Trout plays a higher risk position and is more aggressive on the basepaths where more injuries occur.

In the end, I have to give the edge to the guy who gives you that extra category of production.  If you draft Cabrera #1 overall, you may have set yourself on a course where you eventually have to either punt SB's or else sacrifice power and/or average in order to get them.  With Trout, you leave your options open and keep yourself in contention to dominate every offensive category.

Smackdown Winner:  Mike Trout!

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part VI

Raymundo Montero, RHP.  6'2", 185 lbs.  DOB:  9/20/1989.
Short Season:  2-2, 1.82, 29.2 IP, 7 BB, 43 K, 14 Saves, GO/AO= 1.61.  As you can see from the DOB, Montero is no spring chicken.  He's kind of crawled up the first few rungs of the ladder in the Giants system repeating each level starting with the DSL 6 years ago.  I included him because those numbers are hard to just ignore.  Not sure where he goes from here.  No scouting reports.

Christian Jones, LHP.  6'3", 210 lbs.  DOB:  1/7/1991.
AZL:  0-0, 1.69, 5.1 IP, 2 BB, 4 K's.  Short Season:  2-0, 3.29, 13.2 IP, 2 BB, 14 K.  Jones hails from Danville, CA.  Was an up and coming starter for Univ. of Oregon before missing all of 2012 with TJ surgery.  Came back as a reliever in 2013.  Throws sidearm with an arm slot very close to parallel with the ground.  Probably profiles as a lefty specialist.

Eduardo Encinosa, RHP.  6'5", 215 lbs.  DOB:  8/5/1991.
Short Season:  0-0, 3.12, 17.1 IP, 10 BB, 21 K, 1 Save, GO/AO= 2.50.  Has curiously pitched just 29.2 professional innings after being a single digit round draft pick out of Miami in 2012.  Injury?  Looks like a physical beast and future setup guy in the majors, but needs to get some traction on his career.

Nick Jones, LHP.  6'6', 215 lbs.  DOB;  9/15/1991.
AZL:  0-0, 1.93, 18.2 IP, 9 BB, 18 K, 2 Saves, GO/AO= 3.71.  Maybe 6' 6" lefties actually do grow on trees?  The Giants certainly don't seem to have trouble finding them!

Ben Leslie, OF.  B-L, T-L.  6'1", 185 lbs.  DOB:  6/28/1994.
AZL:  .348/.531/.435, 9 BB, 9 K's in 23 AB.  International signee out of Australia.  Hit over .400 his whole amateur career.  This is a minuscule sample size, but appears to be a pure hitter.  I'm thinking we may see him in Salem-Keizer in 2014.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part V

Tyler Hollick, OF.  B-L, T-R.  6'1", 185 lbs.  DOB:  9/16/1992.
Low A:  .178/.245/.267, 45 AB.  Short Season:  .262/.374/.338, 3 HR, 20 SB, 37 BB, 50 K, 237 AB.  Hollick started out in Augusta.  Not sure if he suffered an injury or if the Giants thought he was overwhelmed, but the sample size was miniscule.  He started off hot in Salem-Keizer hitting over .350 in June, but then hit just .213 and .224 in July and August respectively.  Not sure where all that leaves him in the organization.  He's still young enough to figure it out and he already has the OBP and SB skills down.  I imagine we'll see him in some role giving Augusta another try in 2014.

Ty Ross, C.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 203 lbs.  DOB:  1/17/1992.
AZL:  .182, .308/.273, 11 AB.  Short Season:  .243/.313/.350, 103 AB.  Defensive catcher from an elite college program.  Can he hit a little?  I think we might see him sharing catcher duties with Ben Turner in San Jose in 2014.

Chris Johnson, RHP.  6'4", 205 lbs.  DOB: 8/24/1991.
Short Season:  6-3, 2.49, 83 IP, 8 BB, 78 K, GO/AO= 2.46.  The Giants seem to have interesting pitchers tucked away in every nook and cranny of their farm system.  The problem is they have so many guys who project as #3's or above that some guys who have a chance to be #4 or 5's are gonna get left out.  Good problem to have, but it also means that some pretty good players are gonna eventually find success with other organizations.  From his stat line, it's obvious that Johnson is a contact/sinkerball dude, but he's got great size and those are impressive numbers coming from a pretty extreme hitter's park.

Andrew Leenhouts, LHP.  6'3", 200 lbs.  DOB:  3/28/1990.
Short Season:  9-2, 2.39, 71.2 IP, 14 BB, 53 K.  Another pitchability dude who could get lost in the shuffle.  Lefties that size don't grow on trees!

Cameron McVey, RHP.  6'5", 205 lbs.  DOB:  10/18/1988.
Short Season:  3-2, 3.19, 42.1 IP, 14 BB, 48 K, GO/AO= 1.92.  Interesting bullpen arm that can get a groundball and pitch multiple innings.  Older dude getting a late start in his pro career.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Down on the Farm: Minor League Park and League Factors

We often refer to park and league factors when analyzing minor league performances.  Sometimes that occurs in a relative vacuum of facts to back up the assertions that get thrown around. recently had a nice series of what appear to be official stats for each minor league and minor league ballpark, the first time I have seen it put together in one place with an accompanying discussion.  If you are so inclined, I recommend going over to the Official Minor League Baseball website linked to the left and look them up for yourself.  I thought I would post some of the key ones for the leagues and home stadiums the Giants minor league teams play in.

American League:  4.5 R/G, .740 OPS, 2.7 HR%.

National League:  4.3 R/G, .723 OPS, 2.4 HR%

Pacific Coast League(AAA):  5.1 R/G, .778 OPS, 2.5 HR%

Eastern League(AA):  4.5 R/G, .725 OPS, 2.0 HR%

California League(High A):  5.3 R/G, .764 OPS, 2.3 HR%

South Atlantic League(Low A):  4.5 R/G, .704 OPS, 1.6 HR%

Northwest League(Short Season):  4.7 R/G, .699 OPS, 1.4 HR%

Arizona League(Rookie):  5.5 R/G, .721 OPS, 1.1 HR%

Dominican Summer League(Rookie):  4.6 R/G, .658 OPS, 0.7 HR%

One extremely important thing to notice is that power increases as a player matures.  Although Runs per Game remain relatively constant as you go down into the lower minors, power numbers become very low and HR's scarce because, well, young players bodies just haven't developed the bulk and strength to generate power.  That is a major confounding factor here that has nothing to do with the effects of the ballpark or the league.   What it means is that a .725 OPS in the AA Eastern League is not necessarily better than a .704 OPS in the Low A South Atlantic League in terms of league factors that are unique to the league itself.  In other words, if you took all the very same players in the SAL and transported them to the PCL ballparks using PCL umpires, they would probably not increase their OPS from .704 to .778.  But, if you give those same Low A players 3 years to mature and develop their skills, then put them in the PCL, they now probably would generate the higher OPS.

Now, let's take a look at Park Factors.  These are relative weights with 1.000 being average comparing offensive output in parks within a given league.  These relative weights cannot be used to compare parks in two different leagues.  In other words, a pitcher's park in the Cal League may be easier to hit in than a hitter's park in the Eastern League.

Chukchansi Park(Fresno):  .965 R, 1.093 HR, .955 H

The Diamond(Richmond):  .979 R, .866 HR, .979 H

Municipal Stadium(San Jose):  .847 R, .870 HR, .919 H

Lake Olmstead Stadium(Augusta):  .861 R, .542 HR, .939 H.

Volcanoes Stadium(Salem-Keizer):  1.168 R, 1.303 HR, 1.069.

As you can see, the Fresno Grizzlies play in a neutral park in a strong hitter's league.  Richmond plays in a park that suppresses power relative to a league that is relatively pitcher friendly already which may explain why Giants hitting prospects struggle in the EL more than those from other organizations.  San Jose is surprisingly quite pitcher friendly relative to the league, but the league itself is very hitter friendly, so the overall environment for San Jose hitters may still be slightly friendly.  As you can see, Lake Olmstead stadium in Augusta absolutely crushes power relative to the rest of the league which is already low due to the relative youthfulness of the Low A players.

I hope these numbers and discussion add some light to the heat of future discussions about league and park effects as they pertain to Giants prospect evaluation.

College Corner: Fantastic Friday Starts

Most of the biggest names in college pitching were on display yesterday as Friday Starters in college baseball's opening day.  Matt Imhoff's draft stock undoubtedly took a big jump with the top performance of the day as he dominated a very good Kansas St. team.  Here's the rundown:

Matt Imhoff, LHP, Cal Poly:  7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 14 K's.

Luke Weaver, RHP, FSU:  6 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 7K. (Note the 6 inning no-no).

Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU:  7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K.

Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU:  6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K.

Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt:  5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K's.

Thomas Eshelman, RHP, Cal State Fullerton:  7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K's.

Daniel Mengdon, RHP, Northeastern:  6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K.

Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV:  7.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K.

Andrew Morales, RHP, UCI:  7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K's.

Travis Radke, RHP, Portland:  4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K's.  vs UCLA.

Matt Ditman, RHP, Rice(So):  4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K's(in relief vs Stanford).

Daulton Jeffries, RHP, Cal(Fr):  6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K's.

Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina:  6.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K's.

Michael Cederoth, RHP, SDSU:  3.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K.

Jeremy Null, RHP, Western Carolina:  8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 K.  Draft alert!  Null is a 6'8", 230 lbs junior who put up this line last year:  9-2, 3.36, 91 IP, 27 BB, 109 K.

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part IV

Joe Kurrasch, LHP.  6'0", 205 lbs.  DOB:  6/19/1991.
Short Season:  2-4, 5.03, 34 IP, 12 BB, 25 K.
Low A:  5-0, 1.78, 25.1 IP, 8 BB, 32 K.  The NWL in general and Volcanos Stadium in particular are hitter friendly while the SAL is pitcher friendly, but this difference is so dramatic it makes you wonder if Mike Caldwell taught him a pitch on the run.  Again, the competition for 5'th starter slots will be fierce in Augusta and San Jose in 2014.

Steve Okert, LHP.  6'3", 210 lbs.  DOB:  7/9/1991.
Low A:  2-2, 2.97, 60.2 IP, 24 BB, 59 K, 2 Saves.  Solid season for Okert who got in a lot of innings for a reliever.  Giants are building a strong stable of lefty relievers in the minors.  Will look for him in San Jose in 2014.

Eugene Escalante, C.  B-R, T-R.  5'10", 185 lbs.  6/25/1991.
AZL:  .300/.377/.400, HR, 11 BB, 34 K, 130 AB.  Low level for a college catcher, but you gotta start somewhere.

Ryan Tuntland, 2B.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 190 lbs.  DOB:  4/30/1991.
AZL:  .360/.467/.480, 25 AB.  SS:  .254/.393/.393, 3 HR, 26 BB, 30 K, 122 AB.  Giants have a huge logjam at 2B in the lower minors.  More than 1 player is gonna get left out.

Ryan Jones, 2B.  B-R, T-R.  5'10", 175 lbs.  DOB:  9/8/1990.
SS:  .336/.429/.420, 12 2B, 0 HR, 9 SB, 22 BB, 25 K, 143 AB.  Very impressive numbers until you realize he was repeating the level.  Again, we face the logjam at 2B.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fantasy Focus: Outfield 20-20's

Just a bit much to post complete stat lines on 50 OF's, so I thought I would make a few list of some key stats from last year.

"20-20" players, or guys who hit at least 20 HR's and steal at least 20 bases are almost the Holy Grail of fantasy baseball.  Many of these prized players are outfielders.  If they have other stats to back them up, these guys will usually be taken early in the draft and with a high price in auctions.

Mike Trout:  109 R, 27 HR, 97 RBI, 33 SB, .323 BA, 716 PA.  ADP 1.2, Rd 1.1, $61.1  Trout is the #1 fantasy value beating out Miguel Cabrera by a nose for the added SB's.

Andrew McCutchen:  97 R, 21 HR, 84 RBI, 27 SB, .317 BA, 674 PA.  ADP 4.6, Rd 1.1, $47.7.  McCutchen is now a top 5 fantasy talent and challenging Trout and Cabrera for top spot.

Carlos Gonzalez:  72 R, 26 HR, 70 RBI, 21 SB, .302 BA, 436 PA.  ADP 7.0, Rd 1.1, $44.0.  Might challenge Trout for #1 overall if he could stay healthy for a full season.

Carlos Gomez:  80 R, 24 HR, 73 RBI, 40 SB, .284 BA, 590 PA.  ADP 23.2, Rd 2.5, $31.9.  Out from under the radar.  Gomez is now a certified fantasy stud who will cost you on draft day.

Shin-Soo Choo:  107 R, 21 HR, 54 RBI, 20 SB, .285 BA, 712 PA.  ADP 43.6, Rd 4.5, $25.1.  Should continue to thrive in Arlington, TX.

Hunter Pence:  91 R, 27 HR, 99 RBI, 22 SB, .283 BA, 687 PA.  ADP 59.8, Rd 6.0, $20.9.  Most projections have him in a fairly steep regression.  Since last year was his best season, he will probably regress, but I don't think it will be as far as most of the projections as his low BA in 2012 is suppressing them below his career averages.  Excellent value as a 4'th or 5'th round pick and even better at $20 in an auction.

Coco Crisp:  93 R, 22 HR, 66 RBI, 21 SB, .261 BA, 584 PA.  ADP 134.0, Rd 12.6, $6.5.  He's always had it in him.  Finally stayed healthy for a full season.  Can he do that again?

Will Venable:  64 R, 22 HR, 53 R, 22 SB, .268 BA, 515 PA.  ADP 200+, Rd 20+, $1.  Venable has always been a physical marvel.  Finally started to live up to that in 2013.  Maybe moving the fences in at Petco helped?  Still have to worry about him being platooned.

Thoughts on Spring Training

In one of my favorite movie scenes of all time in Fever Pitch, the Drew Barrymore character tells the Jimmy Fallon character that it's time for him to meet her family and tells him when she wants to take him there.  He responds that he has to go to Florida for Spring Training then.  Drew:  "Those are practice games!"  Jimmy:  "I have to go scout the players."  Drew:  "The Red Sox pay you to do this?" Jimmy:  "No, well, not yet anyway!"

Pitchers and catchers report to the Giants spring training camp in Scottsdale, AZ today, probably the most anticipated event in which absolutely nothing happens in all of sports!  The rest of the team will report a few days later and the first exhibition game gets underway more than 3 weeks before the official start of Spring and more than a month before the start of the regular Major League Baseball season.

Now, I love spring training as much as any red-blooded baseball fan.  I love the feeling of a new start, the hope of discovering new and better players for the team you root for, the chance to see minor leaguers perform against established major league players.   Having said that, I can't quite shake the feeling that last year's interminable spring training, lengthened by the World Baseball Classic, played a role in the Giants subpar performance in 2013.  I mean, the Giants played an extremely emotional extra month of baseball in the Fall of 2012 only to have to report to spring training early, only to grind through even more game made even more meaningless by the absence of those participating in the WBC.  I mean, I don't care how much you love baseball and how much you get paid, there has to be a burnout threshold in there somewhere!

Let's take a look at some of the rituals of Spring Training that do not, or should not have, any effect at all on the regular baseball season.

Getting In Shape:  Back in the day, ballplayers did not train year-around.  Many of them had non-baseball jobs in the offseason or sat around and did nothing all winter.  Spring training was used to get back into condition for the season.  Nowadays, players who don't come to camp already in shape are probably not going to be in shape when the season starts either.  Conditioning is a year-around activity. Spring Training is not needed to get in shape!

Working on Fundamentals:  Really?  Playing this game has been the center of your life since you were about 10 years old or younger and you really think that an extra hour of running to cover first base because there is nothing else to do in the first week of spring training is going to make a difference in August?

Position Battles:  Scouts think they can see all they need to know about a player in 1 AB or 1 IP.  Statisticians think they need at least 3 years of data.  Nobody seriously thinks that 30-40 AB's or 10 IP in Spring Training has any predictive value whatsoever, yet decisions that potentially impact the performance of the team are made on this severely limited sample size.  You could literally do just as well flipping a coin when you have two players competing for the same job.

Ramping Up:  College teams go directly from the practice field to full bore games that count towards playoff rankings with nothing more than in intrasquad game or two.  That does not prevent full starts and terrific performances from day 1 of the college season.  When MLB players miss a chunk of time with an injury, they typically play 3-4 rehab games in the minors, but not always.  It does not have a discernible impact on performance once they are back in MLB games.  I remember when Juan Marichal and other SP's from his era routinely pitched 3 innings in their first exhibition appearance.   There is just no way MLB players need a full month of games to ramp up to the season!

Much as I am excited by the arrival of Spring Training, part of me dreads the dog days of late March when it becomes obvious the players would rather be almost anywhere else.  Part of me wishes some team would just cancel the first 3 weeks of Spring Training and open camp on March 6 or something close to that.  Of course, it won't happen.  The ritual is so set in stone it is codified in the Basic Agreement between the MLBPA and MLB.  It even stipulates how many veteran players have to go in spring training road games!

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part III

Shayne Houck, 3B.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 210 lbs.  DOB:  5/29/1990.
Low A:  .235/.332/.339, 5 HR, 36 BB, 80 K, 336 AB.  Hails from Kutztown St., Ryan Vogelsong's college.  Excellent plate discipline, a little power.  Not sure he has a place to play with Mitch Delfino apparently ahead of him on the depth chart in San Jose and Ryan Jones pretty much a lock to be manning 3B in Augusta.

Joe Biagini, RHP.  6'4", 215 lbs.  DOB:  5/29/1990.
Low A:  7-6, 5.03, 96.2 IP, 42 BB, 79 K, GO/AO= 1.51.  26'th round draft pick out of UC Davis, where he seldom pitched, in 2011.  Son of a former Giants farmhand.  The Giants obviously see something in him that does not show up in his stat lines as they keep giving him opportunities.  Not sure where he pitches in 2014 with the system overflowing in terrific young pitching.

Matt Lujan, LHP.  6'1", 210 lbs.  DOB:  8/23/1988.
Low A:  7-0, 3.33, 78.1 IP, 28 BB, 64 K, GO/AO= 1.94.  Lefty out of USF.  As you can see, he's an extreme groundball pitcher who had great success pitching at a low level.  Another guy who could get squeezed out by the logjam of pitchers in the lower minors.

Mason McVay, LHP.  6'7", 230 lbs.  DOB:  8/15/1990.
Low A:  3-5, 4.12, 67.2 IP, 18 BB, 75 K, 1 Save.  Big lefty who may have enough of an arsenal to start.  Can go multiple innings as a reliever.  Probably has a clearer path to the majors as a reliever in this system.  Looking forward to seeing him in San Jose.

Tyler Mizenko, RHP.  6'1", 200 lbs.  DOB:  4/9/1990.
Low A:  1-4, 2.75, 52.1 IP, 24 BB, 50 K, GO/AO= 2.62, 25 Saves.   Closer for Augusta in 2013 as he was for Salem-Keizer in 2012.  As most of you know, I am not a big fan of the Closer Track.  Mizenko had a great first half not allowing an ER until the season was almost half way over.  Struggled after that.  Probably takes a backseat to Dan Slania in San Jose.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dr B's Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part II

Devin Harris, OF.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 225 lbs.  DOB:  4/23/1988.
High A:  .258/.318/.492, 40 2B, 5 3B, 23 HR, 41 BB, 123 K, 508 AB.  I've like Devin Harris ever since I picked him out as a draft sleeper back in 2010.  The Giants finally took a flyer in round 48.  His bat did not take off the way I expected, but he had a breakout of sorts in 2013 in San Jose.  Just look at that IsoP/SLG%!  Almost half of all his hits were XBH's!  I don't see anyone keeping him from starting in Richmond this year and hey, if you can hit there, you can hit anywhere, right?

Bryce Bandilla, LHP.  6'4", 235 lbs.  DOB:  1/17/1990.
High A:  1-4, 3.65, 44.1 IP, 25 BB, 72 K, 5 Saves.  Bandilla is a big dude who throws hard from the left side.  Huge K rate.  He can get a wild hair up his nose and often does.  I saw him pitch and thought he looked a lot bigger than 235 lbs.  I appeared to me his girth was impingeing is delivery at times.  If he can get his stuff under control, he can become a nasty lefty specialist.  Comp is Terry Forster.

Hunter Strickland, RHP.  6'4", 220 lbs.  DOB:  9/24/1988.
High A:  1-0, 0.86, 21 IP, 5 BB, 23 K, 9 Saves.  Hard throwing RP prospect.  Went out early with TJ surgery.  The Giants obviously think they have something here as they added him to the 40 man roster this last fall.  Giants are usually cautious with post-injury players, so don't look for him in games until June when the short season leagues open.

Rando Moreno, SS.  B-S, T-R.  5'11", 164 lbs.  DOB:  6/6/1992.
Rookie AZL:  .342/.403/.453, 10 SB, 117 AB.
Low A:           .353/.371/.500, 34 AB.  Intriguing SS prospect who spent 2 years in the DSL before advancing to Arizona in 2013.  Competition for MI playing time is fierce.  Not sure where he's going to play in 2014.  I'm sure Arroyo will be manning SS in Augusta and SJ might be a stretch for Moreno, plus he'll have to compete with Jeremy Sy, Brandon Bednar and possibly even Matt Duffy there.  Maybe the Giants will use him like Travious Relaford and play him wherever there is a need at the moment?

Joe Rapp, 1B.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 225 lbs.  DOB:  11/27/1989.
Low A:  .267/.328/.375, 6 HR, 19 BB, 98 K, 344 AB.  Got a late start on the season and struggled through May and June.  Pick it up a lot in July and August.  .290/.357/.415, with all 6 HR in 224 AB in the second half.  This dude can hit!  Should get a chance to prove it at San Jose in 2014.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part I

No particular order here.  I just went through the different levels and picked out guys who didn't make the list, but I thought were worth mentioning.

Brett Bochy, RHP.  6'2", 190 lbs.  DOB: 8/27/1987.
AAA:  1-1, 3.99, 56.1 IP, 16 BB, 57 K, 5 Saves, GO/AO= 0.44.  Melonhead Jr. is a guy who always seems to look better on stat sheets than scouting reports.  Those are very respectable numbers for the PCL.  The extreme flyball tendency may play better in AT&T Park and the other west coast ballparks.  Not sure how the nepotism angle plays out, but you have to think he's going to get his chances.

Chris Dominguez, 3B/OF/1B.  B-R, T-R.  6'5", 235 lbs.  DOB:  11/22/1986.
AAA:  .294/.334/.464, 15 HR, 23 BB, 112 K, 466 AB.  Dominguez had run extremely hot and cold throughout his pro career, so the consistency he showed in 2013 was pleasantly surprising, at least to me.  He hit over .290 in both halves of the season.  He appeared to dial back on the power a bit in order to increase his contact rate.  The result was actually more HR's just because you aren't going to hit dingers if the only contact you are making is with air molecules!  The problem for Chris is he is blocked at 3B in SF, he's not getting any younger and now Adam Duvall is arriving to compete with him for 3B PT.  I could see him being another Chris Carter for another organization.

Ryan Lollis, OF.  B-L, T-L.  6'2", 185 lbs.  DOB:  12/16/1986.
AA:  .267/.345/.377, 8 HR, 50 BB, 61 K, 469 AB.  37'th round draft pick in 2009.  Has gradually moved up the ladder.  I think he is an underrated hitter.  Look at those K and BB ratios!  Longshot, but could be a 5'th OF for somebody. Can play CF.

Jack Snodgrass, LHP.  6'6", 210 lbs.  DOB:  12/10/1987.
AA:  12-4, 3.70, 141 IP, 39 BB, 81 K, GO/AO= 1.51.  27'th round draft pick in 2011.  Was Co-Pitcher of the Year for San Jose in 2012 and had more success at AA level in 2013.  Low K, ground ball pitcher.  His nearly sidearm delivery might be better suited to the lefty specialist role in the majors.  Pitchers with his profile tend to not fare too well in the PCL.

Myles Schroder, 3B/Utility:  B-S, T-R.  5'11", 180 lbs.  DOB:  8/1/1987.
High A:  .296/.359/.467, 6 HR, 12 SB, 25 BB, 73 K, 291 AB.  Schroder is from the East Bay.  Drafted  out of Diablo Valley CC in 2007.  Did not make his pro debut until 2011.  Not sure what happened in between.  I wasn't able to dig up anything on Google.  Had a bit of a breakout season in 2013 after hitting under .200 for Augusta in 2012.  Probably an organizational player, but I like his versatility, scrappiness and athleticism.  Has played all 4 IF positions plus catcher.  Switch-hitter.  Outside chance at having a Rex Hudler type utility career.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #48 Jonah Arenado #49 John Riley #50 Dylan Brooks

We'll wrap up the Top 50 profiles with 3 high ceiling HS draftees the Giants took in the later rounds of the draft.  Since the success rate of later round picks is so low, I see no downside at all to loading up on kids like this on those rounds if you can get them signed.  The Giants did a great job of that in the 2013 draft, hopefully we will see more of that in future drafts.

Jonah Arenado, 3B.  B-R, T-R.  6'4", 195 lbs.  DOB:  2/3/1995.

Rookie AZL:  .211/.286/.263, 38 AB.

Arenado is the brother of Colorado Rockies 3B, Nolan Arenado.  The Giants drafted him in the 16'th round and got him signed.  I don't have much of a scouting report.  On video, he's a big kid who was taking grounders at 1B.  I read one story where in Arizona after practice was done and everybody had gone home, a coach was jogging in the OF and heard someone hitting in the batting cage.  It was Arenado.  The coach asked him why he was still there.  The kid replied that he would rather be doing that than sitting around doing nothing at the hotel.  Gotta love the work ethic!  He's probably be kept in extended spring training and assigned to either the AZL or Salem-Keizer depending on how things go.

John Riley, C.  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 210 lbs.  DOB:  2/14/1994.

Rookie AZL:  .200/.321/.292, 2 2B, 2 3B, 65 AB.

Riley was ranked as the #150 draft prospect by BA and as high as #135 by other analysts.  He was drafted in round 31 by the Giants who then cobbled together enough savings on other draftees to give him a $450 K signing bonus plus another $175 K for a college fund.  Riley has a typical catcher's solid build.  In his stance at the plate, he looks like a less muscled up version of Dan Uggla.  He hit .337 in HS with 8 HR's which is a lot for HS.  I'm looking for him to be back in the AZL or S-K this spring after extended spring training.  He'll turn 20 in February, so he's a year older than most HS draftees.

Dylan Brooks, RHP.  6'7", 230 lbs.  DOB:  8/20 1995.

Rookie AZL:  0-0, 6.14, 7.1 IP, 11 BB, 8 K.

Brooks was drafted out of Canada in round 30.  He's a huge kid who possibly has not stopped growing yet.  On video, he has long arms and legs but otherwise looks well proportioned and athletic.  He's got a high, slow leg kick with good arm extension in back.  There is a small crossfire in his delivery and considerable recoil in his follow-through.  His FB reportedly hits  91 MPH and he has a 4 pitch mix with a slider, curve and change up.  I'm thinking with some tweaks to his delivery and maturity, he has at least 5-6 more MPH in the fastball.  Tall kids are tough to develop, but he is almost a year younger than the bulk of the HS draftees.  I think he will most likely return to the AZL after extended spring training.  He's a project, but definitely someone to dream on and a heckuva pick for round 30.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fantasy Focus: More Mock Drafting

My other mock draft this weekend was an auction.  Completely different dynamic.  You have a chance to get any player you want that you are willing to outbid the field on.  I think you'll be surprised at how similar my roster ended up compared to the traditional snake draft.  I know I was!  We had 23 roster spots and the standard $260 to spend.

C      Wilin Rosario $13
1B    Joey Votto $34
2B    Jurickson Profar $10
3B    David Wright $34
SS    Ian Desmond $28
OF   Ryan Braun $44
OF   Starling Marte $22
OF   Mark Trumbo $15
UT   Josh Hamilton $15
UT   Ben Revere $2
SP    Matt Cain $15
SP    Hiroki Kuroda $7
RP   Tyson Ross $1
RP   Joe Kelly $1
P      Patrick Corbin $2
P      Justin Masterson $2
P      Jake Peavy $1
P      Zack Wheeler $2
BN  Chris Tillman $1
BN  Tim Lincecum $2
BN  Bartolo Colon $2
BN  Taijuan Walker $1
BN  Dan Haren $1

Again, I wanted to punt Saves, a strategy that worked out well for me last year.  I wanted to build a very strong offense as that was my downfall last year.  I had two possible strategies going in.  1.  If I could get either Trout and/or Miguel Cabrera for $60 or less, I was willing to try to go stars and scrubs. As I suspected, both went for over $60 as people tend to overpay like crazy for elite players in mock drafts.  There are no other players I am willing to go over $50 for.  Ryan Braun is a guy who ordinarily I would rank #3 overall and would be willing to go over $50 for so I think he is a bargain at $44.

The biggest overspend was on Starling Marte.  $22 is way too much to pay when his projection is approximately the same as Christian Yelich who I could have had for $2 late in the draft.  I could have used the $20 saving on better frontline pitching.  Profar at 2B is an overpay.  I kind of panicked on him although Aaron Hill also went for $10 much later in the draft, so maybe not.  Profar could be a bust or he could have the kind of huge breakout the Rangers seem think is likely enough to trade away Ian Kinsler for.

The other overspend was on Ian Desmond.  I really like his 5 category contribution, but when JJ Hardy and Jed Lowrie were available for under $5 late in the draft, again, maybe I should have spent the extra $20 on more pitching.

I am very happy with the back end of my pitching.  I just wish I had better frontline guys.  By waiting on 2B and SS, I could have freed up approximately $40 which would have bought at least 1 ace, possibly 2.

Fantasy Focus: Mock Drafting

I participated in a couple of mock fantasy drafts over the weekend on Yahoo.  I'll review the first one here and the second one in a later post.  I play in an auction league, but accidentally signed up for a traditional snake draft(10 teams).  I decided to stick with it, because some of you readers probably play in a snake draft league and could share my results with you.  First, I'll post the roster I ended up with along with the round and overall draft position for each player.  Then I'll offer some analysis.  I had the #8 drafting position in the first round.

C    Wilin Rosario  9-88
1B  Adrian Gonzalez  7-68
2B  Jason Kipnis  3-28
3B  David Wright 2-13
SS  Jean Segura 6-53
OF Ryan Braun 1-8
OF Josh Hamilton 8-73
OF Ben Revere 19-188
UT Xander Bogaerts 14-133
UT Christian Yelich 20-193
SP  Max Scherzer 4-33
SP  Cole Hamels 5-48
RP  Michael Wacha 10-93
RP  Tony Cingrani 15-148
P     Gerrit Cole  11-108
P     Danny Salazar 12-113
P     Hiroki Kuroda 13-128
P     Sonny Gray 16-153
BN Taijuan Walker 17-168
BN  Bartolo Colon 18-173
BN  Tim Hudson  21-208
BN  Bronson Arroyo 22-213
BN  Rick Porcello 23-228

The first 7 in order were Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen, Clayton  Kershaw, Carlos Gonzalez, Robinson Cano.  Ryan Braun seems to be discounted significantly due to the injury/suspension last year.  Without that, he should be #3 overall.  I guess part of it depends on how much you believe PED's actually improve performance.  Personally, I am quite skeptical.

Last year, I did fine on the pitching side using a no-closer strategy.  My downfall was on the offensive side where I did not draft enough power and did not play enough attention to position scarcity.  3B and 2B are positions that thin out quickly, so I wanted to try to fill them with top 3-4 performers at the positions.  David Wright has had trouble staying healthy in his career, but is a 5 category monster when healthy.  Kipnis is an emerging fantasy who helps in all 5 offensive categories.  I do not consider either of these picks reaches.

I had my sights set on Ian Desmond, another 5 category performer, in round 4 until my computer screen went haywire I missed the next 3 rounds while I figured out how to fix it.  The autopicker took Scherzer, Hamels and Segura in rounds 4, 5 and 6 respectively.  This may well be a better sequence than what I would have ended up with had I taken Desmond in round 4.

Adrian Gonzalez is likely never going to hit 40 HR's again, but he's a solid bet to hit 20+ with 100 RBI's and close to a .300 BA.  There was a run on first basemen and I decided to grab AGone in round 7 rather than trying to guess which of Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt or Justin Morneau would have a breakout season.

Josh Hamilton's stock has really cratered.  He's been on my no-draft list for a long time, but feel he is a reasonable candidate for a bounce back season and he is really a discounted buy right now.  Wilin Rosario has the best power of any of the catchers and he's going way too late in both the drafts I participated in.

There are basically 4 SP's with RP eligibility.  Wacha, Cingrani, Andrew Cashner and Joe Kelly.  If your strategy is to completely punt Saves for the entire season, you may need to reach to make sure you fill the RP positions with starters, although it would not be the end of the world to fill them with setup guys.

I love what I've seen of Xander Bogaerts and am willing to gamble a utility position on him.  Christian Yelich projects to put up very similar numbers as Starling Marte who is going in rounds 4 or 5.

I love drafting young, hard throwing pitchers.  Cole, Salazar, Gray and Walker are exactly what I like to load up on.  Don't believe the old saw about young pitching breaking your heart.  I've been drafting this way for years and always, always have great pitching!

Lastly, I like to load up on low WHIP guys at the end of the draft.  Porcello lasting until the final round is downright criminal negligence on the part of the other drafters!

As for weaknesses, I am afraid that using Bogaerts and Yelich as the UT guys may leave me short on power again.   I would have preferred Desmond to Segura at SS and looked for steals in the OF and UT positions, but I can't really complain about Scherzer and Hamels at the top of my rotation.

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #47 Johnshwy Fargas

Johnshwy Fargas, OF.  6'1", 165 lbs.  12/15/1994.

Rookie AZL:  .299/.393/.351, 4 2B, 0 HR, 8 SB, 9 BB, 11 K, 77 AB.

For those of you who are thirsting for the Giants to get more young toolsy, HS draft prospects in their system, I'm going to give you a hot tip here.  Run, don't walk, over to Google and type in the search words Johnshwy Fargas Baseball, then click on the link to his Perfect Game draft profile.  Click on some of the videos and scroll down the page and read the scouting reports.  Holy Toledo!  Here's another prospect that I might have ranked a lot higher if I had seen this before I researched this post.  I mean, this kid has tools and not just multiple average ones!  A 6.55 60?  Throws from the OF clocked at 97 MPH?  Then take a look at his hitting videos.  That is not a slap and dash swing there, folks(although he does seem to go into extreme protect mode with 2 strikes).  Thin, wiry strong frame with plenty of room to fill out.  Here's my comp on this kid:  Carlos Gomez.  I know it took Gomez a while to reach his ceiling, but what a ceiling!

In the AZL, Fargas did not show any power to speak of, but he does appear to already have control of the strike zone, which is probably a better first step anyway.  Love that the Giants were able to grab this kid with the #11 pick and get him signed.  I mean, that's gotta be a blueprint for future drafts as well, right?  Not sure where he goes next?  Starting CF in Augusta?  Salem-Keizer?  It may take some time, but watching this kid develop could turn into something really special.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thoughts on Projections

The 2014 ZIPS projections for the Giants have been released on Fangraphs.  There are several projection systems out there, with ZIPS seeming to have the most respect in terms of accuracy.  Projection systems take historical data and use them to calculate future performance.  Some are quite primitive, such as simply taking the average of the last 3 season's performances.  Others like ZIPS use more advanced metrics including average career trajectories and park factors when players change teams.

Every year, these projections generate lots of discussion, sometimes heated, with lots of hand wringing from fans who think their favorite breakout candidate has been shortchanged.  Some of us can remember the days when we dreaded projection season, because it seemed like the Giants never fared too well, especially on the hitting side, usually for good reason.  We all still read them because there seems to be an insatiable appetite on the part of humans to know the future.

While the projections always seem to generate intense discussion when they come out, we rarely look back and see whether they were accurate or not.  Once the season is over, you know the outcome and want to move on to the Hot Stove and next season.  Who cares what ZIPS thought 6 months or a year ago?

First, some explanations.  Projections are not simply one line of numbers.  They are probabilities with a range of possible outcomes of variable likelihood with the published numbers generally being the mean or average of those probabilities.  Think of the published projection as being the center of a bell shaped curve.  By their nature, projections do not predict breakouts or busts well which is why ZIPS is only projecting three 6-WAR seasons in all of MLB, when the historical average per season is around 10. They also do not predict injuries well, but if a player misses time due to injury, it will impact the PA and counting stat projections.

Rather than simply list the 2014 ZIPS for the Giants and then comment on them in a relative vacuum, I decided to do a little extra work and put out last year's projections, last year's actual performance and this year's projections to possibly get a better feel for their accuracy or lack thereof.

Buster Posey:  2013 ZIPS- .299/.372/.482, 20 HR, 75 R, 86 RBI, 583 PA.
                        2013-          .294/.371/.450, 15 HR, 61 R, 72 RBI, 595 PA.
                        2014 ZIPS- .293/.367/.467, 18 HR, 71 R, 83 RBI, 583 PA.

Brandon Belt: 2013 ZIPS-  .264/.358/.429, 13 HR, 63 R, 67 RBI, 544 PA.
                       2013-           .289/.360/.481, 17 HR, 76 R, 67 RBI, 571 PA.
                       2014 ZIPS-  .264/.349/.441, 16 HR, 73 R, 70 RBI, 562 PA.

Marco Scutaro:  2013 ZIPS- .269/.316/.360, 5 HR, 53 R, 45 RBI, 542 PA.
                          2013-           .297/.357/.369, 2 HR, 57 R, 31 RBI, 547 PA.
                          2014 ZIPS-  .283/.332/.370, 4 HR, 65 R, 44 RBI, 547 PA.

Pablo Sandoval:  2013 ZIPS- .285/.338/.467, 18 HR, 68 R, 76 RBI, 547 PA.
                            2013-          .278/.341/.417, 14 HR, 52 R, 79 RBI, 504 PA.
                            2014 ZIPS- .279/.335/.448, 17 HR, 64 R, 81 RBI, 555 PA.

Brandon Crawford:  2013 ZIPS- .230/.292/.340, 6 HR, 49 R, 42 RBI, 475 PA.
                                 2013-          .248/.311/.363, 9 HR, 52 R, 43 RBI, 550 PA.
                                 2014 ZIPS- .238/.301/.351, 7 HR, 53 R, 46 RBI, 500 PA.

Hunter Pence:  2013 ZIPS- .262/.317/.410, 18 HR, 82 R, 90 RBI, 665 PA.
                         2013-           .283/.339/.483, 27 HR, 91 R, 99 RBI, 687 PA.
                         2014 ZIPS- .264/.319/.425, 20 HR, 87 R, 93 RBI, 665 PA.

Angel Pagan:   2013 ZIPS- .270/.320/.403, 8 HR, 81 R, 55 RBI, 610 PA.
                         2013-          .282/.334/.414, 5 HR, 44 R, 30 RBI, 305 PA.
                         2014 ZIPS- .266/.316/.388, 6 HR, 69 R, 47 RBI, 508 PA.

Gregor Blanco:  2013 ZIPS- .227/.322/.326, 4 HR, 50 R, 25 RBI, 400 PA.
                           2013-          .265/.341/.350, 3 HR, 50 R, 41 RBI, 511 PA.
                          2014 ZIPS- .238/.319/.333, 4 HR, 52 R, 33 RBI, 441 PA.

Joaquin Arias:  2013 ZIPS- .258/.285/.352, 4 HR, 39 R, 35 RBI, 371 PA.
                         2013-          .271/.284/.342, 1 HR, 17 R, 19 RBI, 236 PA.
                         2014 ZIPS- .259/.282/.350, 3 HR, 30 R, 28 RBI, 311 PA.

Hector Sanchez:  2013 ZIPS- .257/.285/.373, 6 HR, 34 R, 57 RBI, 362 PA.
                            2013-          .248/.300/.349, 3 HR, 8 R, 19 RBI, 140 PA.
                            2014 ZIPS- .250/.291/.362, 6 HR, 29 R, 47 RBI, 377 PA.

The team returns essentially intact from last year with the addition of Michael Morse.  What is his ZIPS, you ask?  .253/.304/.415, 14 HR, 48 R, 47 RBI, 427 PA.  I imagine Morse has a wide range of probabilities in his projection that you don't see here.  If he just hits to the projection, it appears he will be a significant upgrade on the offensive side.

As you can see, not only did Buster Posey fail to repeat his huge 2012 season, he fell short of his ZIPS projection by a significant margin.  A return to just his projection will be a significant improvement on 2013.

ZIPS does not see a continued upward career trajectory for Brandon Belt. In fact, it projects a small regression.  I think most of us who have watched his career unfold think he is still on a fairly steep upward trend.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

ZIPS is slightly optimistic for Scooter.  Conservative for Sandoval and extremely conservative for Hunter Pence.  It is optimistic for the bench.

Now to the pitching side of the ledger.  I'm just going go with ERA here to keep things simple and on the bottom line.  W's are a crapshoot and K's and BB's, BAA are all just components of predicting ERA.

Madison Bumgarner:  2013 ZIPS- 3.23, 2013- 2.77, 2014 ZIPS- 2.76.

Matt Cain:                   2013 ZIPS- 2.99, 2013- 4.00, 2014 ZIPS- 3.19.

Tim Lincecum:            2013 ZIPS- 3.67, 2013- 4.37, 2014 ZIPS- 3.80.

Tim Hudson:               2013 ZIPS- 3.61, 2013- 3.97, 2014 ZIPS- 3.28.

Ryan Vogelsong:         2013 ZIPS- 3.68, 2013- 5.73, 2014 ZIPS- 4.02.

Yusmeiro Petit:            2013 ZIPS- 4.68, 2013- 3.56, 2014 ZIPS- 4.10.

Sergio Romo:              2013 ZIPS- 2.25, 2013- 2.54, 2014 ZIPS- 2.39.

Santiago Casilla:          2013 ZIPS- 3.36, 2013- 2.16, 2014 ZIPS- 3.44.

Javier Lopez:               2013 ZIPS- 3.48, 2013- 1.83, 2014 ZIPS- 3.16.

Jeremy Affeldt:            2013 ZIPS- 3.44, 2013- 3.74, 2014 ZIPS- 3.48.

Heath Hembree:          2013 ZIPS- 3.80, 2013- 0.00, 2014 ZIPS- 3.51.

Jean Machi:                 2013 ZIPS- 4.87, 2013- 2.38, 2014 ZIPS- 3.47.

ZIPS projects sustained success for Bumgarner and a return to form for Matt Cain.  It seems to think Tim Hudson will benefit greatly from pitching in AT&T Park.  It projects modest improvements for Timmy and Vogey.  I think it sells the bullpen short, but that's just me.

Putting it all together, I still think the season hinges on the starting rotation.  If everybody in the rotation pitches to their projection, the Giants should be alright.

Dr B's 2014 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #46 Carlos Diaz

Carlos Diaz, LHP.  6'2", 176 lbs.  DOB:  11/18/1993.

2011 DSL:  2-2, 3.31, 35.1 IP, 14 BB, 21 K.
2012 DSL:  8-2, 2.91, 80.1 IP, 20 BB, 68 K.
2013 AZL:  2-3, 4.99, 39.2 IP, 21 BB, 51 K.

I don't know much about this kid except the data listed above.  He hails from Colombia.  Not sure where he's going to find an opening to pitch in full season ball.  He might stay in extended spring training and go to Salem-Keizer.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fantasy Focus: Shortstop Rankings

The big problem with the shortstop position in fantasy baseball is that for several years now, the top performers at the position have had a heckuva time staying healthy which has made for a lot of poor results from high draft picks.  There is a pretty big gap between the top performers when healthy and the rest of the field.  Fantasy owners have a tough decision to make on draft day regarding how much to spend on a premier position.  Let's break it down:

1.  Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers:  62 R, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 10 SB, .345 BA, 336 PA.  Hanley logged a half season's worth of elite performance last year, but when was the last time he was fully healthy for a full season?

2.  Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies:  72 R, 25 HR, 82 RBI, 1 SB, .312 BA, 512 PA.  Tulo is another guy who can't seem to put in a full season's worth of work.  2013 was the best in several years.

3.  Ian Desmond, Nationals:  77 R, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 21 SB, .280 BA, 655 PA.  Desmond is a guy who has been as productive as Hanley and Tulo for the last two seasons simply by staying on the field.  He adds a nice 20+ SB's to the mix to boot.  Has come at a fraction of the cost of the top 2 guys. Will this be the year his cost catches up with his value?

4.  JJ Hardy, Orioles:  66 R, 25 HR, 76 RBI, 2 SB, .263 BA, 644 PA.  Hardy killed my fantasy team a few years ago and I still haven't gotten over it, but he has been a solid performer for the last few seasons.

5.  Jean Segura, Brewers:  74 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 44 SB, .294 BA, 623 PA.  Those 44 SB's will make Segura highly sought after in many fantasy drafts.

6.  Jed Lowrie, A's:  80 R, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 1 SB, .290 BA, 662 PA.  Lowrie's production finally caught up with his reputation last year.  Can he maintain it or even build on it?

7.  Jose Reyes, Blue Jays:  58 R, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 15 SB, .296 BA, 419 PA.  Make no mistake! Reyes is entering the downside of his career.  Playing on turf will only accelerate the process.  Someone in your league will undoubtedly pay a high price for past glory.  Let them!

8.  Elvis Andrus, Rangers:  91 R, 4 SB, 67 RBI, 42 SB, .271 BA, 698 PA.  The only thing lacking in this line is dingers.  You will have to pay for the SB's, though.

9.  Everth Cabrera, Padres:  54 R, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 37 SB, .283, 435 PA.  Cabrera has caught on as a nice source of SB's and his price has risen along with the attention.  Maybe the suspension will drive his price down a bit?

10.  Alexei Ramirez, White Sox:  68 R, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 30 SB, .284 BA, 674 PA.  The SB's are nice.  Otherwise nothing special here.

11. Zack Cozart, Reds:  74 R, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 0 SB, .254 BA, 618 PA.  Cozart is not a terrible bottom of the barrel option.  Gives you a little power.  2013 numbers were almost identical to 2012.  Can he kick it up a notch in his 3'rd full MLB season?

12.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians:  66 R, 14 HR, 64 RBI, 9 SB, .242 BA, 562 PA.  Another bottom of the barrel option.

13.  Brad Miller, Mariners:  41 R, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 5 SB, .265 BA, 335 PA.  Miller was impressive after a callup.  Will these numbers translate to a full season?

14. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies:  65 R, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 22 SB, .252 BA, 666 PA.  Someone in your league will probably draft him just for old times' sake.  Remember when a lot of fans wanted the Giants to sign him instead of going with Crawford?

15. Stephen Drew, Unsigned:  57 R, 13 HR, 67 RBI, 6 SB, .253 BA, 501 PA.  Not sure why anyone would draft Drew at this point in his career.  Not sure why any MLB team would sign him and lose a draft pick or sign him for multiple seasons.

16. Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals:  50 R, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 3 SB, .303 BA, 448 PA.  These numbers would look a lot better without the suspension time missed.  I have a couple of Cardinals fans in my league.  I'm pretty sure one of them will draft him.

17. Andrelton Simmons, Braves:  76 R, 17 HR, 59 R, 6 SB, .248 BA, 658 PA.  The HR's and SB's are about reversed from what most people expected.  I don't think anyone expects him to hit more than 15 dingers again.

Xander Bogaerts has SS eligibility in a lot of leagues.  It will be interesting to see where he is drafted.  Personally I would take a chance on his upside over a lot of these guys.

I will be targeting Desmond and will reach for  Miller or Bogaerts if I miss on him.  Love Bagaerts upside!