Buy, Sell or Hold? Hot Royals Hitters Edition

Let’s get right to it. We are going to examine some hitters who have performed much better than expected so far this year.

Mike Moustakas, Royals — .322 AVG, 5 HRs, 28 Runs, 16 RBI, 1 Steal

A month ago I talked about Moustakas HERE.  I told you to avoid him like the plague despite his hot start. He has not been as bad as I thought he would be, but he has not been as good in May as he was in April. In April he was awesome, putting up a .356/.420/.522 slash line for a .942 OPS. In May he has fallen off to a .286/.330/.440 slash for a .770 OPS. That is still pretty good, but remember this is a guy with a career .686 OPS, and that includes his excellent 2015 stats. Moustakas’ BABIP this year is .349, which is 81 points higher than his career BABIP. That is a very strong sign that he has been quite lucky, especially when you consider his batted ball profile is less impressive than it usually is. The narrative we hear on TV is that he has improved his approach by hitting the ball to the opposite field to beat the shift. That is true because his Oppo% is 35% this year compared to his career 23%. However his Soft, Medium and Hard hit percentages are exactly the same as his career. In fact he hit the ball much harder last year than he is this year. That is a strong sign that his improved BABIP is unsupported by anything in his batted ball profile that would make you think his luck is going to continue. Verdict: Sell. Cash him in while you can still get something for a proven below average hitter.
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First Impressions: Eduardo Rodriguez

Someone must have told Rodriguez when he was younger that first impressions matter.  This is great advice because the first time you meet or spend time around someone ultimately shapes your perception of them more than you think it would.  The first time I saw Rodriguez was on August 26th 2013 when truth be told I was at the game to see the other starter—Noah Syndergaard.  Rodriguez who was pitching for AA Bowie at the time stole the show going 8.0 IP allowing just two hits and zero runs while striking out five batters, Syndergaard was lit up for 9 earned over 3.0 IP.  It’s safe to say that start got my attention and I was even more impressed with his victory over Texas last night than I have ever been while watching him.

In the day leading up to the start I was asked by a few twitter followers whether or not this kid would be worth the waiver add and if he was a good start vs Texas.  I was cautiously optimistic recommending him with the caveat that Texas had been quite good vs lefties and Arlington is not the easiest place to make a debut.  I did think that the advantage still lie with Rodriguez who had the benefit of never having faced any of the Ranger’s hitters before which would keep them guessing.  He delivered 7.2 IP giving up just three hits and two walks while punching out 7 earning the first win of his career.

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Explaining Evan Scribner

There is certain undeniable artistic flair to how a general manager constructs a bullpen. It’s a work of art that is constantly in flux. Often times relievers materialize out of thin air off the waiver wire or free agency mid-season. They arrive as complementary pieces in much larger trades. Others are the result of a failed experiment in the starting rotation. There is no set formula for assembling a successful bullpen, which is why it’s strange that a small handful of general managers have been able to consistently put them together top-notch pens, while the rest of the league flounders in a wasteland of mediocrity.

Since 2010, Atlanta and San Diego are the only teams to finish top-10 in bullpen ERA every season. Two very distinct forces of nature, Craig Kimbrel and PETCO Park, might have a little something to do with that for both organizations. The only club that has come close to matching their success during that span are the Oakland Athletics, who have ranked fourth, sixth and third in bullpen ERA over the last three years.

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Digging For Diamonds Profile: Anthony Alford

As requested, we here at TDG give the people what they want and take a deeper look at one of the most exciting athletes in the lower minors, Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford.  Toronto selected the former Mississippi Mr. Baseball and Mr. Football in the third round, 112th overall in the 2012 draft. Alford was an option quarterback at Petal High School, and was viewed before the draft as a tough sign due to his pending scholarship to play QB at Southern Miss. The Blue Jays convinced Alford to sign for $750,000, but also allowed him to pursue his football career in the fall in addition to playing baseball in the summer, quite a coup to secure what some scouts felt was a top-10 overall talent. John Sickels of SB Nation’s Minor League Ball, rated Alford as the 53rd best talent in the draft class, appearing ahead of more notable current prospects Lewis Brinson and Nick Williams, Braves rotation member Alex Wood, and also in front of fellow high-school prospect (and likely top-10 overall pick in next month’s draft) Alex Bregman, who went on to star at LSU.
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Brandon Belt is Breaking Out, Finally

When Brandon Belt yanked out 17 long balls and posted an .841 OPS in 2013, we sensed his potential breakout. And we became confident of it after he went nuts in the first week of 2014, where he hit 5 dingers in 8 games. Unfortunately, his supposed-to-be breakout season was plagued by a series of injuries, including a fractured finger and concussion which was sustained when he got hit by a baseball during batting practice.

After a slow start to the 2015 season, the UTA product has been on fire in May. Recently, he wowed the baseball world with this 475-footer that landed on Coors Fields’ third deck.

[mlbvideo id=”127299983″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

Is this another sign of Belt’s long-awaited breakout? Or just a hot stretch? To investigate his numbers, there’s enough evidence to convince me that it’s rather the former than the latter.

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The Dynasty Guru Experts’ League — May 2015 Update #TDGX

As you know by now, some 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. Nearly every major fantasy baseball website is represented in this league. 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. It is time to share an update on how things are going. 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 plus a 10 man minor league roster. We can keep 35 players each year. There are 20 teams owned by experts (20 teams x 40 players = 800 rostered players plus about 60 on the DL, now that’s a deep league!). It is a 5×5 roto league with weekly lineups and transactions. We start 14 batters and 9 pitchers each week. Continue reading

Prospect Prizefight: Noah Syndergaard vs Carlos Rodon

In an effort to pay homage to one of the most exciting hyped sporting events in recent history, “Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao”, I have pitted two top prospects against one another in prizefight style.  In one corner is seasoned minor league veteran Noah Syndergaard and in the other corner we have three year college super athlete Carlos Rodon.  I am here to tell you how they stack up vs one another in a dynasty league.

Tale of the Tape:

Both guys here have many physical gifts from the gods giving them traits that any pitcher would be envious of.  Syndergaard comes in at an impressive 6’6”, 240lb with height that allows him to generate an impressive downward plane on his already elite fastball.  This right handed flame thrower leaves little to be desired in the physicality department truly earning the nick name a “Thor”.

Rodon on the other hand comes in with one big advantage right off the bat—he is left handed.  We all know how desirable lefties are never mind lefties who have had the success and possess the raw stuff that Rodon has.  While he isn’t as big as Syndergaard, Rodon’s 6’ 3”, 235lb frame leaves little doubt that he will be able to remain on the field with plus durability and ample size to minimize effort and create a downward plane on his pitches.

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Mike Bolsinger’s New Weapon

Best known for inciting a bench-clearing brawl between the Reno Aces and Albuquerque Isotopes last summer, the Los Angeles Dodgers could not have possibly anticipated that Mike Bolsinger would become a permanent fixture in their starting rotation this season. He was the quintessential “break glass in case of emergency” option when the powerhouse baseball operations duo of Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi picked him up from the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash considerations last off season. After losing marquee free agent signee Brandon McCarthy to a torn UCL, which required Tommy John surgery last month, the Dodgers rotation suffered another crushing blow when news leaked out earlier this week that Hyun-Jin Ryu is opting to undergo season ending shoulder surgery. A perfect storm of devastating injuries and Bolsinger’s stellar early season performance (1.42 ERA with a 13.26 K% in 19 innings) at Triple-A have given him, along with Carlos Frias, an opportunity to stick in the rotation permanently.

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Digging For Diamonds: Low Minors Hot Corner Options To Watch

Self-evaluation is of monumental importance to improving as a dynasty league owner. You should always be evaluating your process and making sure that you’re making quality decisions that balance the short and long-term health of your team. Recently, one area that I’ve been trying to improve upon is my overvaluation of non-elite prospects that are far away from contributing at the big league level that I ‘like’ and have on my team. It’s hard for many dynasty league owners to part with prospects that they ‘like’ or ‘have a good feeling about’ but in reality, most non-elite prospects should be viewed strictly as trade chips to help improve your big league roster. The other important part of understanding how to make deals involving these non-elite prospects is that you must have a proper understanding of replacement level in your league. In other words, if I trade ‘3B prospect X’ in a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 trade to improve my big league squad, what 3B prospect is available for me to add to replace him, if I need to replenish the third base prospect inventory on my team.

An example that I want to use is a player that I own on many teams, Rockies third baseman prospect Ryan McMahon, currently at High-A Modesto. I happen to think that Ryan McMahon is going to be a good major league hitter, but he is far from a sure thing, and should be treated accordingly.
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Appreciating Roberto Osuna

With Maikel Franco’s arrival over the weekend, 24 of Baseball America’s 2015 top 100 prospects have played in the major leagues already. If you want a better indicator for our game, 18 of Bret’s top 101 dynasty league prospects for 2015 have sported big league duds. Prospects are being called on more quickly and at a higher rate than ever and because we’re humans, we have a tendency to disproportionately focus on the the most recent ones. Sure, Lance McCullers is going to pitch today and that is exciting but Archie Bradley also returned from a line drive to the head on Saturday and I heard relatively little about that by comparison, despite Bradley being the better prospect by a wide margin.

We also tend to place less focus on down-list prospects unless they force our hands with production you can’t ignore (think Devon Travis) or until they prove themselves over a bigger sample (how about Jake Lamb, or if you want to go a little deeper, Preston Tucker or Carlos Frias). One such prospect that falls into the latter category is Roberto Osuna, who also happens to be the youngest player in the major leagues.

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