The Dynasty Guru Experts League — August 2014 Update #TDGX

There is one month left to go in the inaugural season of The Dynasty Guru Experts League. Team McKahn has pulled out to a commanding lead, having gained 11 points in the standings since last month’s update. It is going to take a monumental comeback of epic proportions for anybody to catch him now. He has snared 191 of the 200 possible points and might not be done yet. It is shaping up to be a beatdown that will go down in legend. The rest of us are going to have our work cut out for us trying to dethrone Ian and Tim next year. I am up for that challenge!

As you know by now, all of the writers here at TDG have been playing in an epic 20-team dynasty league with fantasy baseball writers from all over the Internet. Matching wits with some of the best players in the country has proven to be quite a challenge and a ton of fun — exactly the way a fantasy league should be. Below you will find the complete standings as well as plenty of enlightening comments from the team owners themselves.

I will summarize the league setup here, but for a more in-depth overview of how it all got started read this: Welcome to The Dynasty Guru Experts’ League. The league is a dynasty league of course, with 30 man rosters Continue reading

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Prospect Perspective: Nolan Arenado and Nick Castellanos are Still Elite Prospects

When a young player has been in the major leagues for awhile it seems like they are older than they really are. It is uncommon for a player to break into the major leagues at the age of 20 or 21 but it does happen. There are usually a couple players who do it each year. Oftentimes those players struggle quite a bit their first year or two in the majors, Mike Trout being the exception that proves the rule. Guys like Nolan Arenado, Nick Castellanos, Manny Machado, and even Yasiel Puig and Freddie Freeman are much younger than people think they are. It is easy to forget that these guys are still younger than many or most top prospects. Many baseball fans and fantasy team owners fall into the trap of believing that a player who has been in the majors for awhile “is who he is” and fail to consider the context of the player’s situation. The reality is that all of the players on the list below are still kids who are a long way from reaching their peak performance. You can expect significant performance increases from every player on this list over the next several years, even the ones who are already stars.

The definition of a prospect as defined by the baseball scouting industry is a hitter who has not reached 130 ABs or a pitcher who has not yet thrown 50 innings in the major leagues, but that definition is misleading. That may be the cut-off for Rookie of the Year eligibility, but a 22 year old doesn’t cease being a prospect just because he has seen a modicum of major league time. Continue reading

2014 Has Been a Disastrous Year for Elite Prospects

We had a bumper crop of elite prospects to play with this Spring. We had visions of new players joining our rosters and playing like the next Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig. The consensus Top 12 prospects this year were as good as we have ever seen. The excitement was at a fever pitch for prospect hounds like us, but the season ended up being a tremendous letdown. Some of it was due to injuries, while most of it was due to flat out poor performance. It just goes to show that patience is key when it comes to prospects — even the elite “can’t miss” prospects often struggle when they reach the majors.

For this discussion let’s focus on what I consider to be the consensus top 12. These are the guys that were ranked at the top of nearly every major list that was published last offseason. We will go down the list and review each prospect. The theme of the day is disappointment. Every guy on this list except for one or two had a disappointing season for one reason or another…

1. Byron Buxton, OF Twins

Buxton has been touted as the next Mike Trout, an all around superstar 5 tool talent. His season has been absolutely destroyed by injuries. He sprained his wrist early in Spring Training and was forced to sit out until May, then he played 5 games and re-injured the wrist again. He had to sit out another two months. He played 30 games at High A Fort Myers but didn’t perform as well as he did last year. His .718 OPS wasn’t too impressive but you could still see the talent and tools in action and see a future superstar. On August 13th he got promoted to AA and what happens? He got hurt in his very first game. He suffered a bad concussion during a diving collision in the outfield. Buxton is still an elite talent and a future star but this season was a total bust. Continue reading

Trade Targets: Strasburg, Leake and Odorizzi are Undervalued Pitchers

Here are some pitchers whose perceived value is less than their real value. Each of them is a solid trade target right now because you might be able to get them at a discount compared to what it will cost you in the offseason. These guys will be ranked highly on cheat sheets next Spring. Let’s dive right in…

Stephen Strasburg — Washington Nationals

9 Wins, 194 Ks in 163 innings, 3.53 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

Strasburg’s 3.53 ERA is easily the worst of his career and ranks him only 44th out of 93 qualifying starting pitchers in the majors. Is Strasburg really only a middle of the pack starting pitcher this year? Well, his 2.94 FIP is 16th in the league, his 2.51 xFIP is 3rd (behind only Kershaw and King Felix) and his 2.62 SIERA is 4th in baseball. You know how much I like K%-BB% and Strasburg’s is 5th in baseball at a stellar 23.2%, which is the best in his career for a full season. In fact, pretty much every one of Strasburg’s peripheral stats is better than his career averages. What does this mean? It means he has been pitching better than ever despite the fact that 26 starting pitchers are ranked higher than him in 5×5 roto leagues. Strasburg has a losing record again this year just like he did last year, but much of that is because the Nationals rarely score many runs behind him. His 4.42 runs per game of run support is 70th in the league this year. The Nationals’s below average Defensive Efficiency Rating of .700 is not doing Strasburg any favors either. His .336 BABIP is 40 points higher than his pre-2014 career average and is likely to come down as the season progresses. His ERA and WHIP will improve right along with his BABIP. Continue reading

Unexpected Aces: Porcello, Duffy, Keuchel and Simon. Will Their Success Continue?

Last week we talked about some pitchers who have come out of the blue to deliver excellent results this year. In that article we covered Tyson Ross, Jake Arrieta, Garrett Richards and Tanner Roark (read it here). But those guys are not the only unforeseen fantasy aces to burst onto the scene in 2014. This week we will evaluate several more to see if their success is the real deal or if they will regress in the future. Let’s get right to it…

Alfredo Simon — Cincinnati Reds

12 Wins, 85 Ks in 138 innings, 3.07 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

Simon’s pretty stats have him ranked as the 24th best starting pitcher in 5×5 fantasy leagues so far this season. After several disappointing years in Baltimore the Orioles released Simon and the Reds picked him up off the trash heap. Nobody knew it at the time, but that move has been a tremendous success for the Reds. Simon put up a brutal 5.18 ERA over 184 innings with the Orioles, but as a Red he has delivered a magnificent 2.92 ERA in 286 innings. What a huge difference! Why did that happen? Did Simon suddenly become a better pitcher or are there other reasons? Well, some might say that going from the AL East to the NL Central is the reason why, but I don’t think so. For one thing, the competition in the NL Central is every bit as good or better than the AL East the last few years. Both Wild Card teams came out of the NL Central last year and it could happen again this year with 4 of the division’s 5 teams well over .500 and close to claiming the Wild Card. Getting to face the pitcher instead of a DH does help, but not nearly enough to explain the difference in Simon’s performance. Continue reading

Unexpected Aces: Arrieta, Roark, Ross and Richards. Can They Maintain Their Success?

The season is now two thirds over and it is a good time to look at the newest and most surprising members of the Ace Pitchers’ Club. Last year at this time you had never heard of these guys, and the ones you had heard of you didn’t think were very good. But things have changed in a hurry and they are all premium assets for your fantasy team now. Let’s take a look and see why these guys got so good so fast and predict if their success will continue…

Garrett Richards — Los Angeles Angels

11 Wins, 143 Ks in 144 innings, 2.74 ERA, 1.04 WHIP

I love me some Garrett Richards. Out of all of this year’s breakout pitchers he is my favorite. The 26 year old is a great reminder that most elite pitchers were not elite from day one. Unlike Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey, most aces start their careers off slowly and ramp their way up the ranks until they finally reach the upper echelon. My favorite pitching stat is K%-BB% and Richards’ went from an awful 3.2% in 2011 to a still awful 4.1% in 2012 to a Continue reading

Is James Ramsey Worth Your Time?

So, James Ramsey was just traded for Justin Masterson, and you’re left wondering, possibly scrambling – because no one talks about James Ramsey. Is he suddenly worth something? There have been some takes that Ramsey is now the Indians second best outfield prospect. Without saying who he’s behind, we’re left to guess, but either way I think it’s an overstatement. With Tyler Naquin performing solidly at Double-A, and fellow first round picks Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer in the lower minors, Ramsey would check in fourth on the outfield depth chart for me, both in real life and in fantasy.

Continue reading