Should You Pick Up These Struggling Star Hitters?: Werth, LaRoche, Napoli, Rollins and Castellanos

Let’s take a look at some hitters who were owned in every league at the beginning of the season but have since been dropped in many leagues. There have been a surprising number of batters who have been big producers in the past and were expected to be good again this year but simply fell flat on their faces. Some of them got hurt and were dropped by impatient owners. Others were just simply playing like crap and deserved to be dropped.

Sometimes fantasy owners get aggravated and drop a player they should have kept. Sometimes owners were forced to drop a player because they needed the roster spot for another player. That means there are some big names on the waiver wire in a lot of leagues right now. Some of them can help your team win this year, others can help you in the future.

Jayson Werth, Nationals — finished 2014 ranked #49 overall, currently ranked #1252 in 5×5 leagues.

Werth has been both bad and hurt. He was awful in April and May, hitting to a woeful .208/.294/.287 slash line in 119 plate appearances. Then to make matters worse Continue reading

2015’s Most Improved Prospect: Nick Williams

A month or so ago on one of my Baseball Professor Daily Profcasts, fellow TDG writer George Bissell and I had Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus on as our guest for our Friday on the Farm show.  Wilson gets a chance to spend ample time covering the Cal League and with that he sees many top prospects come through.  One thing that he stressed to us in the conversation was just how important it is to see prospects recognize their shortcomings and take steps to correct them.  Here in 2015, no single player in the minor leagues has done this with more vigor than the Frisco RoughRiders Nick Williams.

Williams was drafted by the Texas Rangers with the 93rd overall pick straight out of high school.  At 6’3”, 195 lbs., his athleticism jumped off the page along with his incredible bat speed from the left side.  There is no doubt that even as an 18-year-old Williams felt that he was the best player at the level and as he progressed he continued to feel that way.  It wasn’t until the end of his third year as a professional, in 2014, when he reached AA for the first time that he finally looked overmatched.

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Scouring Midseason Prospect Rankings

We’ve reached the middle of July, which is when most prospect purveyors update their respective lists to reflect the multitude of changes that have occurred since the beginning of the season. As we’ve touched on before, it is extremely important to stay abreast of the constant changes in the valuation of prospects in order to run a profitable dynasty league franchise. Perceived value in the prospect world is very important, especially in trade talks where it can sometimes be the final piece of information that closes a deal, particularly if your trading partner lacks the knowledge of prospects (and life in general) that you, The Dynasty Guru reader has in spades.

We’ll be diving into the midseason rankings of:

John Sickelsthe proprietor of the outstanding SB Nation site Minor League Ball (who ranks 75 prospects)
Baseball America (who ranks 50 prospects)
Keith Law of ESPN.com Insider (who ranks 50 prospects)

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Midseason Catching Prospect Check-In

It’s hotter than the surface of the sun where I live and I’m going on vacation in three days, so let’s skip the pussyfooting around and get right down to business.

Several of the top catching prospects made it to the majors this year and/or exhausted their rookie eligibility, including Blake Swihart (#15 in our preseason top 50 catchers), Kyle Schwarber (#18), Kevin Plawecki (#29), Andrew Susac (#30), Austin Hedges (#37), Christian Bethancourt (#38), and J.T. Realmuto (#48). Here’s a quick update on the guys from our preseason list who are left in the minors and a word about a couple of risers who weren’t.

Jorge Alfaro, Texas Rangers (#16)

Alfaro’s season is likely over after having ankle surgery in June. Scouts seems somewhat divided, with some still placing him inside the top 50 on midseason lists and others taking a wait-and-see approach. Baseball Prospectus was highest at #34 and Keith Law also had him barely inside the top 5o while Baseball American and Minor League Ball did not. There’s no question Alfaro still possesses two elite tools in his raw power and cannon arm but over 49 games before the injury, Alfaro was striking out just shy of 30 percent of the time and only walking at a 4.3 percent clip. A 61:9 walk-to-strikeout at Double-A doesn’t portend great things for his ability to access his raw power as he moves up the ladder and the lost development time won’t help but Alfaro just turned 22 and still has the same high ceiling that earned him a spot inside our top 20 in the first place.

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The Two Best Center Fielders in the NPB

As the calendar ticks into late July and we’ve past the halfway through the 2015 season, we’ve seen quite a few breakout players here on the other side of the Pacific. Notably, a pair of center fielders have blossomed into legitimate superstars. Dynasty owners should be aware of these names. Put them in, coach, they’re ready to play.

Yuki Yanagita, OF, Softbank Hawks

Yanagita, left-handed batsman and right-handed thrower, shows remarkable and loud tools all across the game – tantalizing power, plus bat, lightning-fast wheels that allow him to cover tons of ground in center field and swipe a lot of bases, and a cannon for an arm.

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Trader’s Corner: Trade Deadlines are Getting Closer

It is time to make some decisions. Can you win the championship or do you need to do some rebuilding? The trade deadline is approaching in many leagues, so if you are going to make some moves to improve your team you better get on it now! All dynasty teams, no matter how good or bad, could use upgrades. If you don’t do it now you will have to wait until the offseason. Don’t squander this opportunity to improve your team.

Many trades are being made all over the country. This week I am seeing a lot of action surrounding Manny Machado and Gregory Polanco. I think some people are not convinced that Machado is the real deal, or else they are fearful he will blow out another knee and want to cash him in now while he is healthy. Regarding Polanco, perhaps people are not sure he will ever reach his potential or match the hype he generated in the minors. Are you buying or selling these guys?

By the way, use the form just above the comments section at the bottom of the page to submit your trades for us to vote on next week. Send in any interesting trades from your leagues so we can judge them! Now it is time to put some real fantasy trades to the test to find out if the trades were good or bad.

Time to Vote: (As always, vote for the players you would rather have…) Continue reading

Perusing Futures Game Pitchers

Let’s get our jump to conclusions mat out and make some rash judgments based upon hitters getting one or two at-bats playing in their first game in front of a more than a few thousand fans — or even better — let’s make some sweeping generalizations regarding starting pitchers who are overthrowing because they are only going to pitch one inning in an exhibition game. Or, let’s not ever do that. If you’re in need of that type of hard-hitting analysis, you can look at plenty of people’s Twitter feed from Sunday. As the Mike Pelfrey of Baseball Prospectus’ award-winning TINO podcast says, casting aspersions based upon one game makes about as much sense as following MLB Trade Rumors on Instagram.

To be sure, there is certainly knowledge to be gained from seeing top prospects play against each other on a major league field, but adjusting prospects ahead of one another based upon one game (which I saw plenty of going on while monitoring the game on Twitter) falls somewhere between dangerous and ludicrous. Instead, let’s take a look at a trio of prospects who appeared in Sunday’s Futures Game that are largely unowned in dynasty leagues and could see their value rise over the ‘second half’ of the season:
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