TDGX Motto: “Relax. It’s a Long Season.”

Disaster struck my squad in Week One. I sat in 17th place out of 20 in the TDGX league, with some significant warning lights flashing already. My first round draft pick, Ryan Braun, can’t feel the thumb on his throwing hand. More importantly for our purposes, that thumb happens to be kind of important for swinging the bat, something Braun did not do well at all out of the gate. My elite speed guys didn’t steal a single base. One of my primary AVG/Runs guys, Omar Infante, took a fastball to the face and went down like Eddie Richardson taking a left hook from Mike Tyson. On the pitching side, my #1 starter gave up 8 runs in his debut start. My ostensible #6 starter, a late-game pick I was extremely proud of, mind you, lost out on a rotation spot to Lucas Harrell. Lucas Harrell. A guy who had a 5.86 ERA and 89:88 strikeout-to-walk ratio in over 150 innings last season. And there still exists no plausible scenario in which anybody on my roster will log even one save this season. Clearly it was time to sell, sell, SELL!

Or not. Deep breath, kids. It’s the second week of the season. A couple solid days in a row already boosted me back up to 11th as of this writing, and the larger takeaway is that it is way, way too early to consider drastic measures of any kind. Even if your team hasn’t gotten off to the banner start you envisioned when you cackled maniacally to yourself in the dark after your draft ended, it’s important to not overreact to small sample sizes. Still, it’s never too early to start evaluating your team’s performance, so that when the time comes you’ll be in the best position possible to make the most appropriate moves. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of the early storylines with my team in the context of early season strategy.

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#TDGX Recap – Team Karaman Lurches On Towards Draft’s End

In the 3rd installment of my series on the draft we meander into the waning rounds of the draft’s second half. We’re in our third week of drafting at this point, and as you can imagine we’re down to the longest of shots and fringiest of regular and semi-regular Major League contributors at this point. To refresh your memory on my first five picks you can check here, and rounds six through 26 are here. Here’s a brief synopsis on the thinking behind each of my next eleven picks and where I stand heading into the final three selections I’ll have in this draft.

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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 200 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, 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.

Starting pitching is always tough to evaluate as a whole since the group of usable starters is sooooooo big, but we have seen a shift towards more high-level performance out of younger and less-experienced hitters. In fact, were it not for Matt Harvey’s elbow explosion (dibs on that for a band name), we could have seen two pitchers in the top-five who came into 2013 with less than 60 major league innings combined. However, with great performance also comes great responsiblity–and that responsibility is for the fantasy owner to determine whether their young pitcher who was surprisingly good can continue at a high level over a long period of time. We’re pretty confident we know Jose Fernandez is going to be great, but can you say the same thing about Michael Wacha, Sonny Gray, Danny Salazar and Tony Cingrani. I’m not so confident. The other noticeable thing about starting pitching is that some of the depth we’re used to seeing is drying up a bit. But you won’t notice that with this group of studs (just wait until Thursday and Friday).

Now the 20 best starting pitchers in dynasty leagues, starting with a unanimous pick at the top spot among all TDG rankers (like you really need to ask who it is):

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Shuffling the Deck: Post-Prospects in the NL Central

While Ben wrapped up the AL side on Tuesday, I’m lagging behind thanks to a scheduling quirk. Here’s the NL Central:

Chicago Cubs: Junior Lake, OF

I’ve written about Lake before over at Baseball Prospectus, but he’s the guy for this post. He’s going to get a ton of at-bats in an outfield that currently consists of him, Nate Schierholtz (trade candidate) and Ryan Sweeney. I spent the majority of the aforementioned article arguing against Lake being what his surface stats portend him to be, and I don’t plan to argue against myself.

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Ben’s 11 Bold Predictions: Blind Squirrel Gets Nut Edition

Let’s skip the formalities/well constructed introductions.

In my last post, I covered four of my preseason predictions that stunk. In this post, I will cover the other seven that didn’t stink. In this way, I’m able to abide by two Internet Baseball Writing rules at once: I’ve revisited a preseason column, and I get to stretch this into a two-part series.

And to sweeten the deal, while I won’t copy renowned colleague Craig Goldstein’s ploy and bring you GIFs, I will bring you each prediction headlined as though Scott Miller or someone of that ilk touched on the subject. Enjoy!

You can catch my original 11 Bold Predictions piece from March here.

Prediction No. 1: It’s Miller Time In Busch Stadium

What I wrote then:  Shelby Miller will win 15 games for the Cardinals this season, to go along with an ERA in the mid-3.00s and 190 strikeouts in 180 innings … He’s really good, even if he’s overshadowed by the likes of Oscar Taveras. In related news, I have Miller in all but one of my redraft leagues this season. Happyface.

What happened: 15 wins, an ERA of 3.06 and 169 strikeouts in 173.1 innings. Let’s call a spade a spade, folks. I nailed this one. Continue reading

Opportunity Seeker: Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole is a former No. 1 overall draft pick, and he’s making his MLB debut against the San Francisco Giants tonight.

A fairly divisive prospect, some look at Cole and see a future Cy Young contender who will anchor the Pirates’ rotation for years to come. Others see someone with all the natural talent in the world, but without the intangibles and precise command that will allow him to truly thrive as a top of the rotation arm.

With Cole’s major league debut imminent and his ability to help Fantasy teams now very real, the question of what Cole will become ceases to be solely an exercise in thought and gains importance for redraft and dynasty leaguers everywhere.

We all know that Cole should be picked up in every league: you don’t come to a site that’s this niche looking for that information. What you want to know is: is he worth a No. 1 waiver claim? Will his WHIP and ERA hurt your team? If Cole’s first few starts are tremendous or terrible, should you buy low or sell high?

Before you make your decision, let’s learn a little more about one of the minor’s more impressive arms. Continue reading

Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster: One Year Later

A lot can happen in a year.

June 3rd, 2012 was the day I took over the roster which became the focus of my Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster series, and now that June 3rd is upon us again, it seemed like a natural time to take a look at how the team is doing. As you may remember, the time horizon for my team is 2014, and I was pretty active in setting up my roster to look like a team I would actually own. In fact, of the 50 players (25 majors, 25 minors) on the team when I took it over, only 14 remain today. And that’s pretty extensive turnover for an owner like myself who tends to shy away enormo-trades and tries to stick with his guys, rather than go after each new flavor of the week.

Right now, the team is sitting at 3-6 through nine weeks, so it’s pretty clear that my horizon is not moving up. Hopefully with some of the reinforcements I’ll get during the second half, it will keep me on schedule for next year. For a refresher on the league settings, check out the first of my RDLR (no, that doesn’t stand for Rubby De La Rosa here) posts back from August 2012. The important information is that it’s a 16-team H2H points league. But now, I’m just going to run through the team and see how things have changed (hopefully for the better):

Starting Lineup – Hitters

6/3/12 6/3/13
C Matt Wieters Matt Wieters
1B Albert Pujols Albert Pujols
2B Chase Utley Chase Utley
SS Yunel Escobar Starlin Castro
3B Chris Davis Jedd Gyorko
OF Alex Rios Alex Rios
OF Jayson Werth Jayson Werth
OF Yonder Alonso Yasiel Puig
Util Aubrey Huff Yonder Alonso
Util Eric Young Jr Matt Joyce

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Patting My Back: Pat Corbin And Shelby Miller

My last week on TDG was none to kind to the ego.

In my weekly column, I made the world aware of an embarrassing comparison I made between Jesus Montero and a future Hall of Famer, then questioned the future of a man I once believed to be among the best prospects in baseball.

In our second installment of A Podcast For Your Eyes, I was forced to talk about Montero, Eric Hosmer and Will Middlebrooks: three former prospect sweethearts who are crushing more dreams than fastball these days.

And finally, in the waning moments of PFYE, The Sequel, I betrayed my better self by revealing to the world that I had succumbed to the affordable evil that is Yellowtail wine.

I need to get back on my game, and what better way to do so than to spill 600 words on how right I was on two pitchers carving up the National League as we speak?

This week, no panic button shall be pushed. This week, my back shall be patted. Continue reading