Baseball is really hard, and major league baseball is even harder. This is what you should repeat to yourself over and over again when evaluating a young player in the major leagues. In this case the player I am talking about is Orioles RHP Kevin Gausman. On the surface Gausman has plenty of warts. His 3.0 BB/9 and 7.0 K/9 to go along with a 3.57 ERA and pitching in the AL East doesn’t make for an attractive package. Then there is the fact his own manager inexplicably didn’t use him in his playoff rotation (Gausman did pitch 8 innings out of the bullpen, allowing 3 hits, 1 run, walking 2 and striking out 7). It is a player looking more pedestrian in fantasy, and with whispers of a move to the bullpen in his future, normally this tells you to run, instead go buy.
In many ways Gausman reminds me of Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole, Cole has the better overall arsenal, but in his 222.1 minor league innings pitched he only managed an 8.1 K/9. He then made the majors and promptly put up a 7.7 K/9 in his first year, leading to plenty of questions about where his fantasy value really was. In his second year (2014), Cole, when healthy, saw his strikeouts jump to 9.0/9 on the year, and all the way up to 10.3/9 over the second half. All in all Cole had a breakout end of the year with 11 walks to his 60 strikeouts over 52.1 second half innings. Cole is now positioned to be nearing the ceiling many had ascribed to him when he was picked #1 overall. Continue reading
The most valuable commodity in dynasty league baseball is a young player coming off an excellent season. 25 year old Danny Duffy fits the bill. He put up a 2.53 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 149.1 innings this year. He finished the season ranked #34 among starting pitchers on Yahoo, #52 on CBS and #36 on ESPN’s Player Rater. He also got a ton of media attention because his team made it all the way through the playoffs into the World Series. His owners are thrilled to have him and almost everybody else wants him. Because of his youth and great season Duffy should have a ton of fantasy value right now, right? Yes, Duffy does have a lot of trade value, but he does not offer a lot of real production value moving forward.
Unfortunately Duffy’s fantasy stats are hiding some nasty surprises. Continue reading
The Arizona Fall League wrapped nearly a month ago. As always, it featured a who’s who of highly touted prospects – Buxton, Lindor, Russell, Bradley, Appel, and on and on. It is widely scouted and covered by sources familiar to dynasty league participants. I recommend Wilson Karaman’s coverage here if you haven’t read it already. Conversely, the Caribbean and Australian winter leagues are barely covered and the players are far less recognizable than the AFL for most fantasy leaguers. Video is scarce and I don’t know enough about the quality of competition or the parks to weigh winter results very heavily in the overall context of player evaluation, but there is some useful information to be found if you look hard enough.
Echoing the sentiment Wilson expressed in his AFL recap, the sample sizes are minute and I’m not looking to make any grand conclusions based on winter league stat lines. Small sample notwithstanding, players can gain momentum in these winter leagues and alter their perception in the prospect marketplace. For example, Gregory Polanco built on his strong 2013 minor league campaign by slashing .331/.428/.494 in the Dominican and created even more buzz heading in to 2014. Jesus Aguilar hit 18 bombs in Venezuela last winter and perhaps foreshadowed his strong AAA season. The winter leagues are also a popular destination for veterans in their mid-20s looking to make adjustments to their games. A virtually unknown 26 year old named Collin McHugh struck out 20 against 4 walks in 19.2 innings in Venezuela last winter.
I will cover players in each division in separate posts, beginning here with the NL East. Sorry Braves fans, I couldn’t find anyone interesting to talk about.
Patience, as it relates to dynasty leagues is often times a curse rather than a blessing. If you’re stuck holding onto a failed prospect when you had an opportunity to get value in a trade, or missed an opportunity to add a better option for free because you just couldn’t let go of your beloved, (now) failed prospect, patience is often the cause of missing out on more valuable options. One of the most difficult aspects of evaluating a minor league roster at the end of the season is deciding which prospects to cut bait with and which prospects are capable of fulfilling the promise that caused you to acquire them in the first place. Non-elite prospects who reach the upper levels of the minors and struggle are often times the most difficult to evaluate, because it can be dangerous to overreact to one ‘bad’ minor league season. Do you hold on and hope the prospect makes the adjustments necessary? Do you try and sell high if you feel the prospect has reached his peak value, or just plain cut bait if you can’t find a trading partner?
Let’s take a look at 5 prospects who were among the Top 101 fantasy prospects according to Baseball Prospectus at the beginning of the year who did not take a step forward and now are in danger of being leapfrogged by other options this season: Continue reading
In dynasty leagues by far one of my favorite things to do is to stockpile talent where my opponent isn’t looking for it. This strategy can be played out in many ways from researching and stashing a high ceiling prospect before he becomes mainstream to exploiting a classic dynasty league bias—player age.
Over the last five years I have witnessed countless owners in my own dynasty league decide they can’t win—they then go all in on the rebuilding process. Without fail the first part of their rebuild is trading older players who don’t fit their window of competing. Not unlike real baseball teams dynasty owners take their older talented players and cash them in for younger ones. These players can often be obtained for much less than their yearly value and can help you win your league this year.
Below are ten hitters who will be over 35 on opening day that I believe are great targets in all dynasty leagues. Next week I will be back with pitchers in the same age bracket. Enjoy!
Part of the inspiration for this series was the San Francisco Giants coming into 2014. Their minor league system had 4-5 Latin pitchers (some of which are about to make a repeat appearance right now) that had varying levels of upside and risk, but all had anonymity on their side. This year their names are a little better known and their futures have advanced forward and so their value is a bit more solidified. Overall the NL West has a good mix of high upside top line arms, and some younger arms with more safety than you would expect, that may be able to help you in deep deep dynasty leagues.
Jose Martinez – RHP – Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: 6.0 IP 6.00 ERA 4 BB 3 K
If you were in a deep dynasty league last year, Martinez was a hot name towards the end of the first round. The diminutive RHP lost the year due to injury (stress fracture in his elbow), but overall all of the stuff is still there. The stuff is electric with a fastball up into the upper 90s, a plus plus curveball, and feel for a changeup. There are plenty of red flags around Martinez from the injury and his slight frame, but his upside is not easily found. The injury and lack of hype really creates a buying opportunity here, especially since the reports indicate that Martinez will be healthy going into 2015, and his age and experience suggest a possible full season assignment.
Buying Opportunity: Injured player who has fallen off of people’s radars Continue reading