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

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TDGX Draft Recap: Rounds 1-20

We’ve been flying through this Dynasty Guru Experts League draft. Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #TDGX, or just check back here for recaps from myself and other writers. It’s been a lot of fun and there have been a number of different strategies employed. My co-owner Paul and I decided we wanted to go as young as possible without sacrificing any big values that fell to us as the draft unfolded. Some of those values came in the form of bounce-back candidates that we chose to bet on. We also made a decision not to draft pitching or prospects too early. Through the first half of the draft (400 picks) we’re very happy with our team. As we head into the deep, uncharted waters of rounds 21-40, we’ll probably have to get more creative and a little less picky! I guess you could look at it as no big deal, since half of our team will be cut heading into 2015 anyway. More on that here. Enough chatter, let’s get to the breakdown…

1.1 Mike Trout

2.40 Jason Heyward

3.41 Starlin Castro

The only question surrounding Trout at this point is whether the 15-keeper price we paid for the rights to him will do us more harm than good. We’ll have to wait to find out. Price aside, he’s the best player in baseball and at 22 has no blemishes to make us think twice about drafting him #1 overall. Heyward and Castro are both looking to come back from bad years in 2013. Both are also young, talented baseball players that we are willing to invest in. Machado went one pick before us, and he would have been our choice over Castro had he fallen. We discussed taking Profar instead of Castro as well, but we felt that Castro’s position as well as his (slightly) longer MLB track record made him a more comfortable pick for us. More on the Castro pick here.

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Mike Trout and the Price of a Pick

By the time this post publishes, my partner and I will have selected Mike Trout first overall in the new Dynasty Guru Experts League. Participating in this league is going to be a challenging ride. In fact, challenging describes the process through which our team got the #1 pick in the first place. To put it simply, each team will have a 40-man roster of both major and minor league players. The default number of keepers each year is 35, but since this is the inaugural season, teams were permitted to “bid” on draft positions by sacrificing a certain number of keepers in a blind auction. Our bid of 15 keepers did the trick for the #1 spot. Bret spelled it out in more detail on Tuesday. In this post I’ll try to lay out our thought process in our bid for the first pick.

I should probably introduce my co-owner, Paul Clewell. We’ve been playing fantasy baseball together for years, and he’s one of the reasons I started writing in the first place. After countless conversations about baseball on the phone, we decided one of us should write some of it down. We even pipe-dreamed about playing in an experts league one day. Well, here we be. So how did we arrive at the number 15, and what were we thinking? It really boils down to 5 points…

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The Top 500 Overall Dynasty League Rankings

There’s a certain amount of creativity that needs to go into a list like this. And that’s a good thing, as there is just so much to balance when you’re comparing players across not only positions but fantasy value horizons as well. The latter is so important because while it’s one thing to draw player values up in a vacuum, it’s another to realize that both rebuilding teams and contenting teams are going to be looking at this and saying to themselves “how to I translate this into my current team’s needs?”

The answer is simple, the translation isn’t necessary. For example, if you are dealing away Clint Frazier and you’re looking to win now, you may decide that Jon Lester (one spot ahead of Frazier on the list) is a good fit and go for him. That’s all fine and good, but that doesn’t make trading him for R.A. Dickey or Shane Victorino a bad idea either. And the opposite works if you’re a rebuilding team. The point of this list is to give an idea for the type of value you should be shooting for either in a draft or a trade. Needs in a dynasty league are obviously important and skew values to the point where everyone on this list should be viewed within a 10-15 percent range, depending on what your team looks like.

Before we jump into the list below, I want to thank all of the writers at TDG, who did a fantastic job in putting all of this together. I never would have been able to do it in such a successful manner without them. I was jealous of their high-level blurb writing and can’t wait to see what they have in store for all of us this season. And most importantly, I want to thank you–the readers. Without you, we wouldn’t be doing this and this site wouldn’t exist. We run on your energy, enthusiasm and willingness to debate (not to mention, your donations) and we love it. As the site grows, we’ll all grow together.

And one last time, we hope you have enjoyed the rankings package for 2014. And if you did, 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.

So now, the final list of the 2014 Dynasty League Rankings. This one was not possible to do as a consensus, so it is all mine from start-to-finish. No more talking, just the #Dynasty500:

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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 125 Dynasty League Outfielders, Nos. 1-20

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.

Outfield is always a strange position to evaluate in a general context since it’s really so league-specific. Different leagues start different numbers and there’s such a huge difference from the 60th outfielder to the 90th. In shallower leagues, it remains a strong position that you can target when the wind moves you over the course of your drafts or rebuilding process. In deeper leagues, it has to be a more heightened focal point or else you’ll be the guy starting Raul Ibanez and Jon Jay, and hoping for the best. On a more uplifting note, the upper crust here is particularly delicious and it starts with the guy who may cement himself as one of the all-time greats before even hitting free agency (closely followed by a guy who could end up being just as good).

Now the 20 best outfielders in dynasty leagues, starting with one of the best hitters in the game today:

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How to Value MiLB Players in Dynasty Leagues

This article is intended to be a very ‘back of the envelope’ way to calculate values for MiLB players and should be used as a framework  toward better understanding what prospects are worth in dynasty leagues. 

Owning MiLB players in a Dynasty League team can be one of the most rewarding as well as frustrating components of a deep league. These players have the ability to pay off extremely handsomely, i.e. Mike Trout, but more often than not they usually land somewhere on the scale of usable player to completely worthless, i.e. Rocco Baldelli/Brandon Wood. And from these varying extreme possibilities lies the difficulty in valuing MiLB players against MLB guys. So to help in valuing these types of players against each other I’ve put together an easy way to approximate MiLB worth no matter what league you play in.

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Salvador Perez: Top-Tier Fantasy Catcher?

If you were to pick one of the following catchers for your fantasy team, who would it be? (Opening day age)

Full season statistics current through 9/16:

1: 270/379/450; 33 doubles and 18 home runs (26)

2: 317/356/478; 39 doubles and 12 home runs (30)

3: 306/377/472; 33 doubles and 15 home runs (26)

4: 291/326/428; 23 doubles and 11 home runs (22)

5: 324/404/476; 35 doubles and 11 home runs (29)

6: 257/337/473; 12 doubles and 20 home runs (29)

Statistics since August 1:

1: 259/379/422; 6 doubles and 6 home runs

2: 272/286/476; 9 doubles and 4 home runs

3: 298/371/363; 5 doubles and 1 home run

4: 323/362/538; 5 doubles and 7 home runs

5: 300/367/486; 4 doubles and 3 home runs

6: 209/278/357; 2 doubles and 5 home runs

Their identities after the jump…

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Manny Machado and Becoming the Third Wheel

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.

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Yasiel Puig: The Man, The Myth

I know I shouldn’t. I really do. I have an analytical mind. I’m aware of what a small sample is. I know what Spring Training statistics are good for. There are a thousand things that I know which all should prevent me from joining the growing ranks of Puig-A-Mania, but my gut doth protest too much. Every time I see him destroy another ball, the synapses in my brain which control the most primal of urges start firing off like an Mcycle with a laser gun on a defenseless cyborg.

Of all players in professional baseball, I’ve gotten the most questions about Puig this spring, and for good reason. He clocked in at #62 on my Top 150 prospect list from mid-January, and he was my #74 outfielder, a couple of weeks later. Here was my blurb on him:

“Ranking a Cuban defector who’s only amassed 82 professional at-bats is really just guesswork, so I’m not going to pretend that this is much more than that. And he’s different from Cespedes or Chapman because he never played for the top Cuban national team (which more scouts have access to). However, rumors that he was out of shape quickly dissipated when he showed up in Arizona this summer. Puig’s game is strength first and everything else later. He could be a big-time power hitting OF, or he could not make enough contact for it to matter.”

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The Top 150 Dynasty League Outfielders, Part 1 (#1-50)

There are two very distinct sides to the crop of outfielders out there today. The most obvious side that we see is the star side, which is as deep as ever – led by as strong of a top-10 at the position as we have seen this century. And not only are they a strong group, they’re a young group as well, including four players 23 years old or younger. And nearly all of these players are of the five-tool variety, except for potentially off-the-charts power guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Hamilton.

The dark side of the outfield position these days is the underbelly, which really shows itself once make your way beyond the top-40 or so. Essentially, the middle class of outfielders has nearly eroded – dropping the position quickly from your solid #3 OFs to your seemingly never-ending string of fliers. And the results of this are twofold on how you have to evaluate the position. First of all, high floor players are of greater value than at many other positions, and Nick Markakis is a great example of this. We’re not exactly waiting with bated breath for him to be a star anymore, but at least we know we’ll get some level of production from him. Because of this, he makes the top-50. Second of all, while it doesn’t show up in a positional list, the bulk of fliers out there for your final OF spot or two causes the entire group of players to get devalued on an overall standpoint. So unless there’s a particular guy you really like, you can wait and wait and wait – there will be outfielders starting the 2013 on waivers that will outperform most of the 4/5 OF types being drafted. So be patient and be prepared to scour the waiver wire.

And now your top 50 dynasty league outfielders, with commentary:

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