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

Scouting the Statline: More California League Bats to Watch

Earlier in the season I took a look at some notable fantasy prospects of the California League, and with the regular season schedule out here in the Southland winding to a close this week I figured it’d be a valuable time to check back in on a couple more names of note. Three of the more interesting fantasy prospects still in the league were on display when I took in the High Desert-Lancaster series last week, but before we get into their profiles I’d like to take a moment to add my standard disclaimer for pieces in this series: you should NEVER SCOUT MINOR LEAGUE STAT LINES. They help for context, sure, and while they do matter to the degree that they influence how other managers in your league (and, it’s okay to admit it, you) view prospects, minor league statistics shouldn’t ever be the bottom line tool you use for evaluation in dynasty leagues.

This is perhaps more true of California League stats than any other league. Among the High-A ranks this circuit’s .764 league-average OPS is nigh on 60 points higher than the Carolina League (.706) and almost 70 clear of the pitcher’s paradise that is the Florida State League (.696). The outlying nature of the league adds another vast layer of complexity when trying to analyze player performance from afar, and the High-A level is already tough enough as is. It doesn’t mean that every breakout performance in the league is a mirage, but it does mean that more often than not it’s a good idea to avoid making rash decisions about acquiring or selling prospects in your dynasty league when they’re mixed up with the arid desert air of the southwest. So consider what follows a cautionary tale, but one filled with hope and optimism for our nation’s fantasy baseball future.

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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

Digging for Diamonds: Low Minors First Base Ballers (2014 Mid-Season Edition)

If you’ve been reading this site for a while you know that I’ve got a bit of a fetish for first base prospects. They almost never get national prospect love on account of their defensive limitations, and that in turn leads to an ever-present opportunity for dynasty league owners to pounce on undervalued assets. Back in October I wrote about some low-minors first base prospects that had my eye heading into this season, and now that we’re closing in on the end of the season here are a few next wave guys who’ve caught my eye in the low minors. Obviously all the standard caveats about stats in the low minors apply here, and unless you’re in a very, very deep league none of these guys are likely to be candidates to draft just yet this off-season. But all of them should be squarely on your radar heading into next season, as they represent some of the most intriguing performances from minor league first basemen in 2014.

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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

Digging for Diamonds: Scouting the Cape League

It’s never too early to get a jump on planning for your dynasty squad’s future, particularly in the middle of August if you happen to be at the helm of a team whose ship has already sailed in the current season. And one of the best opportunities for longer-term planning presents itself annually out on Cape Cod, where a solid majority of the nation’s best and brightest soon-to-be-draft-eligible collegiate players congregate for their first taste of wood bat baseball. I made my annual pilgrimage out to the land of mackerel bones and sand last week and caught home-and-home series of Brewster-Harwich and Chatham-Orleans. In the process I managed to squeeze in looks at a handful of players that should be high on your deep league follow lists heading into the spring college season and next year’s draft. Below are my scouting reports on some of the more intriguing fantasy prospects I was able to put eyes on, along with some notes about their future potential fantasy value.

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