Craig’s Eleven Bold Predictions for 2014

11 Bold Predictions

You’re not here for intros. Here’s last year’s. Here’s the review of last year’s. Here’s this year’s train wreck:

1)      Michael Choice gets 400+ plate appearances

Mitch Moreland is playing through a might-be-tweaked oblique right now and I think Choice is good enough to hold on to the job if he can get a crack at it full time. Between his ability to rotate into the outfield corners and hit for power that would be functional in Oakland much less Texas, Choice should earn plenty of playing time. If he does, it’s fantasy gravy.

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Nick Doran’s Eleven Bold Predictions

Its time to have fun with some predictions. Some of my predictions are bold and some are BOLD but none of them are crazy. All of these things have a decent chance of actually happening, at least in my mind anyway. I can’t wait to brag about my psychic prognostication skills come October.

I am stepping out on a thin limb here with my first bold prediction because this rare feat has been done only one time in the history of baseball…

1. Billy Hamilton will steal 100 bases while scoring less than 100 Runs.

Take a look at Vince Coleman’s strange 1986 batting line:

PA — 670
R  – 94
H — 139
2B – 13
3B – 8
HR – 0
RBI – 29
SB – 107
CS – 14
BA – 0.232
OBP – 0.301
SLG – 0.280
OPS – 0.581
OPS+ – 62

That is all sorts of ugly. Coleman got a lot of fanfare that season because of his antics on the basepaths, but he was just plain terrible batting in front of Tom Herr, Jack Clark, Andy Van Slyke, Terry Pendleton, Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith. The two are often compared, but Billy Hamilton is likely to be a much better all-around player than Vince Coleman both offensively and defensively. Hamilton won’t hit many home runs but he will get a lot more doubles and will hit for a much better slash line than Coleman, who finished his career with a very poor .668 OPS. My bold prediction is Hamilton will match Coleman’s dubious feat his rookie year but will get much better as time goes by.

2. Joey Votto will be the National League MVP. Continue reading

Team Recap: Slap a 55 Present/60 Future Grade on Team Karaman

The TDGX Draft has been alternately slowly creeping and gallantly galloping along, and as I write this I’ve just made my 26th selection of the draft. You can read a more in-depth look at my first five selections here, and I’ll post my roster construction as it exists presently at the bottom of this piece. Here’s some briefer commentary on the picks I’ve made since that top 5 and how I see my squad shaping up.

6.112 Everth Cabrera, SS SDG

Cabrera was far and away the best SS option on my draft board here, and I was excited to be able to snap him up. His speed and stolen base efficiency is second only to what we assume is to come out of Billy Hamilton, and he was in the midst of a tremendous breakout before the suspension came down last year. He’s always shown an impressive ability to take walks despite poor power, and if he can couple a double-digit walk rate with the .280 AVG he was on pace for last year he’s a guy that can steal 60+ bases in a full season. At 27 I like what I’ve got here for the next 4 years, and between him and Braun I can launch a “Bash Brothers” redux marketing campaign: the Biogenesis Brothers. The kids will love it.

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TDGX Recap: Team Karaman and the Top 5

I drew the #9 pick for the Dynasty Guru draft, and it proved to be a more challenging slot that I anticipated. You can read about the bidding guidelines for purchasing draft slots here, along with some stellar analysis for the staggering 15-keeper price paid by winning bidder Mike Buttil for the right to draft Mike Trout 1st overall. In planning my pre-draft strategy I assessed very quickly that I was not going to be willing to go as high as I anticipated I’d need to in order to compete for the slot. I made a smaller wager on the 3 spot to see if I could snag Miguel Cabrera for a short-term run, but that didn’t pan out (I bid 4 slots, winning bid was 6). So I threw in a slot apiece on the 8th, 9th, and 10th spots with an eye towards hopefully grabbing Giancarlo Stanton in the first round followed by nice, evenly spaced picks for the duration of the draft.

The first part of the equation didn’t happen either as Stanton was popped at #8, one pick before me. I immediately regretted not going to 2 picks with my bid on that slot, even moreso after seeing what remained on the draft board. And what was left, you ask? A whooole lotta question marks, that’s what. Can you count on Hanley Ramirez to stay on the field, and even if you can what is the baseline performance expectation for him at this point, anyway? Can Ryan Braun come back from a half season of lost at-bats and again be the elite power/speed combo now that he’s (presumably) off the sauce? Can you count on Joey Votto for elite production in more than two categories? What do we make of Yasiel Puig? Did Troy Tulowitzki’s achilles just explode while I was typing this? Not a fun bunch of questions to be asking ahead of your first pick in an indefinite-keep dynasty league. Here’s how things went down:

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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Dynasty League Outfielders, Nos. 21-40

From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.

So we hope you enjoy the rankings package that we’ve put together here. And if you do, I hope that you will make a donation to show appreciation for the content you’ve seen here at the Dynasty Guru. You can do that through this link, or by clicking the “Donate” button on the top-right corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

And now installment number two of the Top 125 Dynasty League Outfielders, led off by La Potencia, the man with the strongest core on the planet (including the planet’s own):

21) Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics (Age: 28, Previous rank: 12)

Cespedes took a step back in AVG, OBP, RBI, and steals in 2013, while his HR and runs saw slight improvements. He remains an enigma two years into his MLB career; yet to produce a 30 HR season, but with significant upside. What is less probable from Cespedes is a 20-20 season or a .300 average, as his speed may not be up for it and his K rate spiked in 2013, so draft and bid accordingly.

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Up the Middle: Loading Up on Shortstops

I recently finished reading Joe Morgan’s autobiography A Life in Baseball. I really enjoyed it as he’s one of my favorite players and the book was written in a very honest, straightforward manner. One of my favorite parts of the book was when he discussed the “diamond within the diamond” and how important good defensive play is to building a winning team, especially at the positions of catcher, middle infield, and centerfield. That book was written two decades ago about a player who played four decades ago, and yet that principle still holds true. No matter how solid prospects start out at the shortstop position, there are many factors along the way, including the defensive ability mentioned above, that can determine whether that player will actually end up at shortstop in the major leagues.

Due to the fact that shortstop is still a very defensive position along with second base, the two positions can supply loads of value if you can find a player who is an offensive stud there as well. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to write about middle infield in the first place. But there is also the catch that the guy who you’ve projected as your dynasty league shortstop of the future ends up as a corner infielder. So what do I do as a dynasty owner? I load up on shortstop prospects and play the numbers game. Continue reading

Prospect Smackdown: Billy Hamilton vs. Adam Eaton

Welcome to Prospect Smackdown: a new series we’re starting here at TDG designed to both let you compare similar fantasy players and prospects, as well as challenge some conventional wisdom about players heading into 2014.

The format is simple. We’ll give you two players (or sets of players), ask you a question about those players, lay out information about those players and then ask you to vote. The goal here is less to convince you of something and more to learn how you judge the players we scout, rank and analyze every day.

Feel free to vote anonymously or to explain who you vote for and why in the comments, and feel free to suggest future smackdowns, too. I’m going to be spearheading the series at first, but if this is something we determine our readers have a lot of interest in, I’m sure our other writers will jump in!

Prospect Smackdown No.1 - Who will steal more bases in 2014: Billy Hamilton or Adam Eaton?

The case for Hamilton

The case for Hamilton is pretty straightforward: He’s the fastest player in organized baseball, an 80-grade runner who almost needs a “90″ in that regard. He stole 165 – not a typo – bases between Rookie ball, A+ and AA in 2012, and followed that up with a paltry 88 steals between Triple-A and the majors last season. Right now, Hamilton is the odds-on favorite to serve as the Reds lead-off hitter, and if he sees 500 PA 80+ steals is not out of the question. For comparison’s sake, Jacoby Ellsbury lead all of baseball with just 52 steals. Continue reading

Up the Middle: Eric Young Jr.

I admit I get wrapped up in the winter meetings. Before they even started, a big time second baseman named Robinson Cano was already spoken for. I could talk about the ramifications there, but I think it’s been covered. Instead, I’m going to go out on a sturdy limb based on some of the rumors I’ve heard floating around this week. Apparently the Mets are pushing Daniel Murphy hard in trade talks. If that is indeed the case and a deal gets done, Eric Young Jr. could be your starting second basemen in New York on Opening Day.

EY2 was really productive for the Mets as a sparkplug leadoff hitter after being traded from the Rockies. Consequently, they seem set on finding a way to work him into the everyday lineup. Everyday at bats are really the key here, as the Mets have already signed both Chris Young and Curtis Granderson in the outfield. I’ve seen two projections already for EY2, and one has him playing a full season while the other has him starting a modest 44 games. There are also rumors that Murphy could get moved to first base with an Ike Davis trade, which opens second base for Young. UPDATE: Davis has been all over the Mets rumors the past day or so. Either way, if EY2 can indeed get a playing time boost through Murphy moving off of the position, there are two main reasons why I absolutely love him for fantasy: Continue reading

A Dynasty League Season in Review: Trading

I’ve written about some of my current fantasy leagues/teams in this space before, though I’ve yet to discuss the league I’m about to. For a primer on that, check out what I wrote for Fake Teams a while back, because this will be very much the same exercise. Here are the basics:

  • 20-team league
  • 25 man rosters
  • 22 keepers
  • 4 DL spots
  • 15 man minor league system
  • C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, Util, Util lineup
  • SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P, P rotation
  • AVG/R/HR/RBI/SB/OPS
  • W/K/S/H/ERA/WHIP

Because of the deep rosters, multiple DL slots and the fact that you can keep anyone on your farm team as long as they’re below rookie limits or are currently in the minor leagues, the league plays extremely deep. There is a three round minor league draft held in February, followed by a three round major league draft. Most roster turnover comes in the form of trades. I thought it might be instructive for some to see the thought process that I go through in terms of building my team. For disclosure’s sake, Bret joined this league this offseason. I had a good team and made moves, some good, some bad. I did reach the playoffs though I lost in the first round. Oh yeah, and I’m the LA Dodgers. Here goes nothing:

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It’s Never Too Late For a Bold Predictions Review: Bret’s Turn

As I begin to write this, it’s still October, which means the statute of limitations on a HEY LET’S REVIEW MY BOLD PREDICTIONS FROM BEFORE THE SEASON piece has not yet come to pass. So, HEY LET’S REVIEW MY BOLD PREDICTIONS FROM BEFORE THE SEASON!

The week prior to Opening Day, each previously current member of the Dynasty Guru staff wrote eleven bold predictions for the upcoming season. The still current members of the team have already written their reviews, so it’s my turn. It’s going to be a roller coaster of emotion here, as some of these predictions not only came true, but look pretty great in hindsight. Of course, there are also predictions which make me want to erase all references to myself and this site on the internet.

So get out your smiting sticks (or whatever the kids are smiting with these days) and let’s dig in. Oh, and grades because everyone loves grades:

1. Alex Gordon blows the doors open and hits over .320 with 27 homers and 15 steals, finishing in the top-5 of MVP voting in the American League.

What I Said: I’m a big Alex Gordon believer, you guys know this already – and I think this is the year he takes that step forward into superstardom. Well, superstardom on a national level, as in reality, he’s been worth 12.4 wins above replacement over the last two seasons.

What Happened: Not exactly. Gordon ended up hitting 20 homers with 11 steals, but paired it with a .265 average. He will not get a single MVP vote.

Grade: D

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