Eric Hosmer, Freddie Freeman and the Question of Ceiling

There’s a good chance that we here at The Dynasty Guru have an Eric Hosmer problem. Maybe it’s just me, because while I can type just fine, the only thing I can actually verbalize is “Hosmer”. I’m basically Hodor at this point and Ben is shouting at me like Bran during that thunderstorm telling me “NO MORE HODORING”.

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But I can’t, and neither should you. Despite another dormant April and May, Hosmer has pulled his season line up to .303/.357/.450. That actually outpaces his impressive rookie year in terms of OPS and wRC+, though they’re close enough not to make a big deal about that. Even more exciting is his slash line and overall production since May 30. I know, I know, arbitrary endpoints and all that but sometimes endpoints aren’t so arbitrary. May 30 was the date that George Brett received the interim hitting coach job and while it’s far too simple to reduce Hosmer’s improvement to “Brett became hitting coach and fixed him”, it’s not unfair to suggest that whatever Hosmer and Brett worked on…is working. Since that date, Hosmer has hit .321/.372/.504 with 15 of his 16 home runs on the season. He’s also added 11 stolen bases on the year, down from 16 last year, but a reasonable tradeoff given the tremendous improvement everywhere else. All this is great, but not necessarily cause for yet another article on Hosmer. So what gives? This gives:

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Current Events: Replacing Jason Heyward

We here at The Dynasty Guru are nothing if not opportunists, so instead of a look at a fairly ignored starting pitching prospect (Luke Jackson), you, our loyal reader, will be treated to the topic du jour: WHAT DO I DO I JUST LOST JASON FREAKING HEYWARD FOR THE REST OF THE FANTASY SEASON AND HE WAS JUST GETTING HOT TOO!!! ! U!GH. :( :( :(

Jason Heyward’s 2013 line: .254/.348/.426, 2 stolen bases, 13 home runs

I know he was playing better of late, so I’m adjusting my replacement lines up a bit from this. It’s obviously not possible to replace a talent like Heyward from the waiver wire, but we’ll do our best. I’m using my 20-team 25 man roster league as a template for the type of replacement options that are available. We use a LF/CF/RF set up, so I’ll include that breakdown for those that have a similar situation.

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Current Events: Happy Xander Bogaerts Day

I tried to resist. I was going to write about Kyle Seager. I was going to write about the Cubs’ third base logjam. I was going to write about what we can learn from Chris Tillman.

But I am weak-willed, and so I must indulge.

Today (as I write this … yesterday as you read it) is Xander Bogaerts day. And it is a good day indeed.

Those of you who follow me here or around the web (read: those of you who’ve ever read, like, one of my columns) know that I’ve been high on Bogaerts for quite a while. During the 2011 season, when Fangraphs’ Mike Newman began urging everyone to pay attention to the studly Aruban, I was quick to listen. When I finally put my own eyes on Bogaerts in Portland last season, I came away with a lasting impression: he is, quite simply, the best prospect I’ve ever seen in my limited time analyzing the minor leagues.

Now, at the age of 20, Bogaerts is in the big leagues, and he could be there to stay. Continue reading

Is Jake Peavy A Fit for Fenway?

Somehow, I’m going to go with “because there is no god”, Jake Peavy was the headliner on the biggest trade of the non-waiver trade deadline period (unless you too have a hard on for Drew Butera).  By this point, Jake Peavy is largely a known quantity, so it might be a bit of a headscratcher that I’d opt for a breakdown of him from a dynasty perspective. But, being the shameless pageview whore than I am, writing about someone who was moved at the traded deadline (and in a three-team trade no less) seemed like a good idea.

So let’s just look at a few things to set the scene. First, I wanted to see how Peavy was pitching this year, relative to a successful 2012/earlier career to inform us of what we might expect going forward. Peavy is currently striking out 23.5% of batters this season and walking only 5.3%. Those are great rates and actually better his percentages from 2012 and are comparable (small stretch) to his prime seasons. It might make one wonder then, why his 4.28 ERA is so close to his 4.09 FIP. The answer resides in the number of home runs he’s allowed, as he’s seen his HR/9 rise to 1.58, the highest rate of his career. It might not be so surprising to see a HR/9 that high given that he’s only generating groundballs at a 35.2% clip compared to 47.1% for flyballs, a marked departure from his prime, where he would generate more groundballs than flyballs. What makes me optimistic that Peavy can improve upon his performance by limiting home runs, despite the escalated FB% is that his HR/FB rate is currently the second highest of his career, and nearly 3% higher than his career rate.

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Christian Yelich Vs. Jake Marisnick

Mired in the middle of an intense playoff race and hoping to add some youthful spark to a team full of aging veterans, the Miami Marlins purchased the contracts of outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick today.

Nah.

The Marlins are just really bad – especially offensively – and decided to try and be a little less terrible offensively now that the potential for Super-Two status is well in the rear-view mirror.

That being said, now that Yelich and Marisnick are joining Jose Fernandez, Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, Adeiny Hechavarria and, of course, Giancarlo Stanton in the majors, we’re finally starting to see the framework of what should be the Next Competitive Marlins Team two or three seasons down the line.

But if you’re a dynasty, keeper or redraft league owner, you don’t care about that right now. You just want to know what Yelich and Marisnick can do now, and what they’re likely to do in the future.

The good news: they’re both likely to be Fantasy assets for a long time to come. The bad news: neither is likely to help you much in 2013. And yet despite those similarities, Yelich and Marisnick are very different players. Continue reading

Scouting Sano, Cecchini, Ranaudo And Rosario

As a fairly recent college graduate, 2013 is my first baseball season working a full-time job. Let me reaffirm what most of you already know: it sucks.

It’s harder to watch baseball now. It’s harder to read about baseball now. And above all else, it’s hard to attend baseball games now. For someone who loves going out and seeing minor leaguers, that’s a tough pill to swallow.

But on Friday, July 5, I took advantage of the rare long weekend granted to me and traveled to Portland to see the Sea Dogs take on the Rock Cats in a matchup that showcased four of the Top 100 Fantasy prospects in baseball.

The trip didn’t work out quite as perfectly as I had hoped: Miguel Sano, the game’s biggest draw, didn’t start, which led to an impressive profanity-laced tirade by me that I’m fairly sure had my girlfriend questioning my sanity. Garin Cecchini, who has questions about his future defensive home, didn’t play the field, which also frustrated me. And the Twins started non-prospect Pat Dean, when I had been praying to the gods that Alex Meyer would miraculously come off the DL and earn the start.

But still, I saw four new Top 100 prospects with my own eyes. And that’s pretty cool.

Here’s how their respective Fantasy values have changed in my eyes.

Garin Cecchini (3B, BOS)

Since I only saw Sano take one at-bat, Cecchini is the player I was most impressed with from my trip to Portland. He’s bigger and more athletic than I thought, with a thicker lower half and broad shoulders, and it’s easy to see why some scouts put a 55 or 60 on the future power tool. At the plate, Cecchini has a quiet setup and a beautiful swing, accelerating quickly through the zone and demonstrating natural bat-to-ball ability. He stings baseballs on a line right now, and I didn’t see much more than gap power at present. Continue reading

Dylan Bundy And TINSTAAPP

Dylan Bundy, who has yet to throw a pitch in a game this season, had a setback yesterday as he threw from 120 feet.

According to everywhere on the Internet, Bundy felt discomfort near his “right flexor mass,” where the forearm meets the elbow. Bundy was shut down for similar reasons six weeks ago, given a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in April in the hopes he’d recover without surgery.

I am not a doctor and do not know what the future has in store for Bundy, but I’m also not new to monitoring pitching prospects, and this is not good news.

I bring this up simply because I want to call attention to something I wrote earlier in the season: something that, in hindsight, was foolish to publish. Here is my quick description of what Bundy brings to the table from my preseason Top 150 list.

The “safest” high school pitcher to come along in years has all the ingredients to be a Top 10 Fantasy starter for a very long time, though he may pitch in relief in 2013.

You see the word “safest?” I should not have used it. In fact, prospect writers and analysts should be fined every time they use the word “safe” and “pitching prospect” in the same paragraph. Except for this instance. Continue reading

Do Not Fall In Love With Mike Zunino

Perhaps you drafted Jesus Montero as your starting catcher this season. Maybe you’re in a league that starts two catchers. Maybe you were drunk and thought Tyler Flowers would be good this year. Perhaps you put all your eggs in Ryan Doumit’s basket.

There are plenty of reasons why Fantasy owners in leagues of all shapes and sizes are looking for catchers this time of year. It’s a shallow position to begin with, and one that lends itself to injury more than almost any other.

So if you saw Mike Zunino promoted to the majors last week and added him to your team, it’s tough to blame you. And depending on your team and league’s composition, it might have even been a prudent choice.

But if you burned a high waiver claim or swung a trade for Zunino, you made a mistake. And if you’re expecting him to serve as the savior of your catching situation, prepare to be disappointed.

I’ve made this point about Zunino around various corners of the Interwebs before, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much here. That being said, here are three basic reasons you should be leery about what Zunino can do for you in 2013.

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The Top 40 Dynasty League Prospects From the 2013 Draft Class, For Now

It may not be the most highly publicized of the major sport drafts we have in this country, but most of you likely know that the 2013 MLB Draft (otherwise known at the Rule 4) took place between Thursday and Saturday of this past week. There’s still so much that we don’t know–mainly who’s actually going to sign with the teams that drafted them–but that’s not going to stop me from putting out a list of the guys you need to have your eye on from a dynasty league perspective.

While it’s still very early for a list like this (we’re dealing with no professional data at this point), there are plenty of leagues out there who have their minor league dispersal drafts over the next month or two. In fact, TDG writer and part-time jazz singer Craig Goldstein had a draft that literally started last Friday, when only the first two rounds had been completed. Personally, I’m not a fan of having these drafts during the season for two reasons: 1) there’s so much we don’t know about these players, which we’ll make strides towards learning over the next six months, and 2) there’s already enough excitement during the summer. But that’s neither here nor there.

Now, the disclaimers. These rankings are for fantasy value only, and my rankings are based off a standard 16-team dynasty format with only one catcher. Also, because we do not know who will and will not sign at this point, I am approaching the rankings with the assumption that everyone will sign–and for players who have long odds to sign, I will point it out in their individual write-ups.

So let’s get to it. Here are the 40 best dynasty league prospects taken in the 2013 MLB Draft (for now) with some brief descriptions of their skill sets, starting with:

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Opportunity Seeker: Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole is a former No. 1 overall draft pick, and he’s making his MLB debut against the San Francisco Giants tonight.

A fairly divisive prospect, some look at Cole and see a future Cy Young contender who will anchor the Pirates’ rotation for years to come. Others see someone with all the natural talent in the world, but without the intangibles and precise command that will allow him to truly thrive as a top of the rotation arm.

With Cole’s major league debut imminent and his ability to help Fantasy teams now very real, the question of what Cole will become ceases to be solely an exercise in thought and gains importance for redraft and dynasty leaguers everywhere.

We all know that Cole should be picked up in every league: you don’t come to a site that’s this niche looking for that information. What you want to know is: is he worth a No. 1 waiver claim? Will his WHIP and ERA hurt your team? If Cole’s first few starts are tremendous or terrible, should you buy low or sell high?

Before you make your decision, let’s learn a little more about one of the minor’s more impressive arms. Continue reading