Coming into the 2013 season, there was a generally accepted belief that the new class of young superstars in this league began and ended with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. It’s not that there wasn’t a next tier, it’s that the gap was well established — even when you dropped to also-studs like Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward and Starlin Castro. It’s the difference between the usual level of greatness that we see, and the greatness only exuded by the generational talents who have the skills to change the conversation. But as it turns out, there may be room for a third wheel in that class.
Manny Machado was, in some ways, a victim of his own success in fantasy circles. It’s no secret that he was consistently challenged by the Orioles with his assignments, tackling Low-A at age 18 and Double-A at age 19. So, simply by holding his own at the levels he was assigned to was a strong statement about his talent — and those gaudy minor league numbers, like the ones many of the “household name” prospects put up, never came. But that didn’t deter the Orioles from seeing what he was capable of, as he was promoted to the major leagues just one month after his 20th birthday, and all he did was post a 98 OPS+ in the middle of a playoff race. Not to mention that he was playing great defense at a position he only played two games at during his entire minor league career.
Bret, Ben and I are often asked our opinions on trades and on prospects, both here or on Twitter. We also get asked what we thought of trades that are already made, and we do our best to give honest answers whether that’s what the questioners want to hear or not. Well, I’m using this forum as an opportunity to discuss two recent trades I made in an AL-Only Keeper league. I’m going to give my rationale, and I’d love to hear what you guys think of the return I got and if the deal makes sense. This also allows you to see us walk the walk when it comes to player valuations. I can tell you I’m high on Adalberto Mondesi…but now you’ll see exactly how high I am. I will try to provide as much context as possible.
10 Team AL-Only League
3 year limits on players with 1 player you can keep indefinitely (designated as “franchise player”)
All of us, myself included, come into each season with preconceived notions about certain players, whether it’s on the positive side or the negative side. The question is how much of the season we need to see to leave those notions behind, and the answer is that it’s different for every player.
Take Coco Crisp, for example. I had Crisp ranked at #58 among dynasty league outfielders this off-season, and he was one of the most valuable players for fantasy in April. When I update my rankings (stay tuned for an announcement on this–and yes, I’m aware that I just teased a teaser), he might move up a few spots overall, but nothing drastic. In this case, it’s because Crisp wasn’t ranked higher due to his proclivity for injuries, and he’s on the DL again right now. As far as his performance, we know that he’s capable of performing like a stud in spurts–it’s already built into his value.
It’s when new information comes out that has to factor into a player’s valuation that the ranking moves in a significant fashion. And here are a couple of guys giving new reasons for their rankings to start changing.
One of my favorite scenes in Monty Python and the Holy Grail occurs when a cart filled with dead bodies is being rolled through a fake medieval town. A cart-pusher rings a bell and proclaims, “bring out your dead,” in an upbeat and matter-of-fact tone.
We then see a second body collector enter screen with an elderly man slung over his back, protesting, “I feel fine” and “I’m not dead yet!”
“I’m getting better,” the man says, as the two collectors argue over whether or not to add him to the cart.
The prospects below represent that old man, and this was a long way to go for an introduction.
Anthony Ranaudo (SP, BOS)
As a Red Sox fan and prospect enthusiast, few people on this planet were quite as excited as I was when the Sox grabbed Ranaudo with the 39th pick in the 2010 draft. Until quite recently, that enthusiasm had not been rewarded, as Ranaudo has battled injury and ineffectiveness for much of the past two seasons. I must admit that I’d all but written Ranaudo off before the season began – I had him as the Sox’ No. 18 prospect and he was nowhere near my Top 150 list. But just 33 innings into his 2013 campaign, it appears as though reason for newfound optimism exists. Continue reading →
The decision process around whether to trade a prospect (or two) for established big leaguers can be one that owners lose sleep over. However, you can usually hang your hat on the fact that prospects are unproven and the established big leaguers are either in their prime or have an established baseline of performance. When the player you’re trading for is performing above expectations, but is still reasonably aged, you’re also buying the chance that this is a new baseline–like with Dexter Fowler or Chris Davis. And when that player is a little older, but has that baseline, you’re looking at buying more steady future performance, even if you know it won’t last forever–like Chase Utley. It’s when neither of those things are true that things start to get a little dicier.
However, sometimes the best deals you can make are ones where the market is dictating a run in the opposite direction. And they are often the best deals because the prices tend to be pretty low. You could be dealing with an owner who is rebuilding but had to grab a few veterans to fill out his active roster, and is now seeing that he could potentially get a return for one of these players. Or you could be dealing with a contending team who just doesn’t need this player on his/her active roster. Either way, here are five hitters who could potentially be had for a prospect you might not miss all that much in your dynasty league:
You guys know me by now. Well, maybe. If you don’t, you will soon as I don’t necessarily have a ton of depth. For the people that do know me, they know that few things describe me better than the word “stubborn”. I was told from an early age I’d be a good lawyer because I was so argumentative, and I rarely gave in (as though that’s how one becomes a lawyer). What those things actually made me was a terrible student, but I digress. Knowing my penchant for sticking to my guns, it should come as no surprise that I heartily agreed with our Benevolent Dictator when he said that Tony Cingrani’s value will never be higher (go to quick hits). Granted he said that before Cingrani’s phenomenal performance against the Nationals, but I stand by it nonetheless. It holds as true today as it did then, which technically makes him (and me) wrong. But I’m not so willing to concede that we weren’t right either.
There’s nothing like a week of high-profile starting pitcher injury concerns to make you re-think how you go after pitching in fantasy leagues. And no, I’m not talking about Chad Billingsley having Tommy John surgery, which was just about the most unsurprising news blurb I’ve seen in a long time. However, when you start seeing the names of Stephen Strasburg and Dylan Bundy thrown around with elbow/forearm issues, things get a little more real. But before we start freaking out and doing something we’ll potentially regret, let’s take a look at each player individually to see how this is potentially affecting their value.
The fear with Strasburg isn’t necessarily going to go the way of Mark Prior, but that he will have too many injuries to reach the lofty potential we’ve all anointed him with. And I say we, as I’m certainly guilty of this too–after all, he was the #2 starting pitcher in my off-season dynasty rankings (next to Clayton Kershaw). And while I still feel pretty confident about the ranking, I don’t feel great about it. But let’s be honest, there’s a reason to feel not so great about anyone you could slide into that spot (unless you want to dig down a little bit for someone like Adam Wainwright). Verlander has his velocity issues, which are worrying some. Price and Hamels have have pretty bad starts to the season. King Felix has the specter of the elbow injury. The list goes on.