Almonte has been the recipient of some buzz recently, with Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus reiterating that he’d prefer the 20-year old to former first round pick Kyle Zimmer recently. Almonte goes after hitters with a plus fastball. It arrives in the low to mid 90s but hitters don’t seem to pick it up all that well. The fastball is good, but the change up is Almonte’s bread and butter, with good separation from the fastball, arm speed and movement. He’ll throw both a slider and a curve, but neither pitch has declared itself the go-to breaking ball just yet. He’s got lots of development left in front of him, but he’s an exciting arm.
As I hinted at in yesterday’s post on the updated Top 500 Dynasty League Rankings, Ben, Craig and I sat down to “record” the latest PFYE on the subject at hand. So for your amusement, we talked over gchat for almost an hour and a half about what we’ve liked and not liked so far during the 2013 season–along with some tough decisions to be made. The following conversation has not been edited, abridged or otherwise touched (besides cleaning up our names and the formatting so that it’s easier to read).
Without any further introduction (because this post is long enough as is), I present to you the Episode 2 of A Podcast For Your Eyes.
Bret: i’m back, babydoll!
Craig: BRETTY WESTSIDE
Bret: so you guys ready to kick this thing off?
Craig: as long as you’re not being Lucy to our Charlie Brown, yes.
Ben: i am prepared.
Craig: but seriously I just logged off twitter, so yes I’m ready
He who is resistant to change is destined to perish.
On one hand, it’s so simple. The whole off-season we build value-based mausoleums around all of these players, as time stands still long enough for us to construct them. But the only problem with that is that these players are not dead–they are, in fact, very alive. As as soon as you think you’ve built the perfect chamber, with statistics and narratives covering the walls, things begin to change. Quickly. And as dynasty league owners, it’s even more important to separate the signal from the noise when it comes to early season performance. If we wait too long to notice real changes, or if we refuse to accept the ones which are in front of us, it can derail a team off its course for years. So it’s in our best interest not to have static valuations, and part of that comes from placing a higher value on current season production. The future is great, but current production is king. So when Jose Reyes is out for two months, not only does his redraft league value go down, but his dynasty value does as well. Just not as much, since it’s unlikely to be something that will affect him long-term.
The risers on this list are sure to catch your attention, and in fact, there are 20 players who have jumped more than 100 spots in the rankings (including those who weren’t ranked in the top-500 last time around. Many are names which will not surprise you, like Carlos Gomez, Chris Davis and Josh Donaldson–but the important thing to note is that they are based on skill-set improvements which can be sustainable. On the other hand, you’ll find 17 players who dropped 100 spots or more, and those are even easier to spot. The vast majority of these are either older pitchers who have undergone surgery or players (closers-slash-otherwise) who have lost their roles. You won’t find healthy players drop very far based solely on performance, except in extreme circumstances. That tends to be more of a slow burn.
When I was a younger man, newly enthused by the idea of scouting and analyzing prospects, I loved few things more than player comparisons.
It’s a trap that many of us – even the most seasoned pundits – fall into on occasion, and you read about them all the time. Byron Buxton is the next Andrew McCutchen. Jose Iglesias is the new Rey Ordonez. Any catcher who can’t really catch but can hit is Mike Napoli. Anyone with plus-plus control is Greg Maddux.
I think comparisons deserve a bit more leniency when it comes to Fantasy prospect talk, since what we’re really talking about is just an end stat line. So maybe Miguel Sano is nothing like Giancarlo Stanton, but if the numbers look the same at season’s end, the comp is a good one. Robbie Erlin isn’t going to be as good as Mark Buehrle, but if his stats play up in Petco and the numbers match up, you’re justified in invoking the name.
But there is one link between player and prospect I made several years ago that I had hoped would stay hidden in dark corners of the Internet forever. One so glaringly foolish that I am cringing a bit as I write this now. Yet the only way to improve oneself is through self-reflection and honesty, and so I shall share my secret with the TDG family now.
Coming into the 2013 season, there was a generally accepted belief that the new class of young superstars in this league began and ended with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. It’s not that there wasn’t a next tier, it’s that the gap was well established — even when you dropped to also-studs like Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward and Starlin Castro. It’s the difference between the usual level of greatness that we see, and the greatness only exuded by the generational talents who have the skills to change the conversation. But as it turns out, there may be room for a third wheel in that class.
Manny Machado was, in some ways, a victim of his own success in fantasy circles. It’s no secret that he was consistently challenged by the Orioles with his assignments, tackling Low-A at age 18 and Double-A at age 19. So, simply by holding his own at the levels he was assigned to was a strong statement about his talent — and those gaudy minor league numbers, like the ones many of the “household name” prospects put up, never came. But that didn’t deter the Orioles from seeing what he was capable of, as he was promoted to the major leagues just one month after his 20th birthday, and all he did was post a 98 OPS+ in the middle of a playoff race. Not to mention that he was playing great defense at a position he only played two games at during his entire minor league career.
Bret, Ben and I are often asked our opinions on trades and on prospects, both here or on Twitter. We also get asked what we thought of trades that are already made, and we do our best to give honest answers whether that’s what the questioners want to hear or not. Well, I’m using this forum as an opportunity to discuss two recent trades I made in an AL-Only Keeper league. I’m going to give my rationale, and I’d love to hear what you guys think of the return I got and if the deal makes sense. This also allows you to see us walk the walk when it comes to player valuations. I can tell you I’m high on Adalberto Mondesi…but now you’ll see exactly how high I am. I will try to provide as much context as possible.
10 Team AL-Only League
3 year limits on players with 1 player you can keep indefinitely (designated as “franchise player”)
All of us, myself included, come into each season with preconceived notions about certain players, whether it’s on the positive side or the negative side. The question is how much of the season we need to see to leave those notions behind, and the answer is that it’s different for every player.
Take Coco Crisp, for example. I had Crisp ranked at #58 among dynasty league outfielders this off-season, and he was one of the most valuable players for fantasy in April. When I update my rankings (stay tuned for an announcement on this–and yes, I’m aware that I just teased a teaser), he might move up a few spots overall, but nothing drastic. In this case, it’s because Crisp wasn’t ranked higher due to his proclivity for injuries, and he’s on the DL again right now. As far as his performance, we know that he’s capable of performing like a stud in spurts–it’s already built into his value.
It’s when new information comes out that has to factor into a player’s valuation that the ranking moves in a significant fashion. And here are a couple of guys giving new reasons for their rankings to start changing.