Trader’s Corner: TDGX Expert League Edition

This edition of Trader’s Corner will feature several trades from The Dynasty Guru Experts’ League (#TDGX), which is an industry league with fantasy baseball writers from all over the Internet, including several from this website, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, Rotoworld, Rotowire, Razzball and all the other baseball sites you have ever heard of . It will be neat to vote on some trades made by industry experts. I have a team in that league but I have not made any trades lately.

After the TDGX trades we will have plenty of reader-submitted trades to ponder as well.

By the way, use the form just above the comments section at the bottom of the page to submit your trades for us to vote on next week. Send in any interesting trades from your leagues so we can judge them! Now it is time to put some real fantasy trades to the test to find out if the trades were good or bad.

Time to Vote: (As always, vote for the players you would rather have…)

The league structure for TDGX is a 20 team 5×5 roto league with 30-man major league rosters and 10-man minor league rosters. We keep 35 players each year with no salaries or contracts.

The first trade was between Luke Chatelain of The Dynasty Guru (TDG), who is in 2nd place, and Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus, who is in 7th place: Continue reading

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2015’s Most Improved Prospect: Nick Williams

A month or so ago on one of my Baseball Professor Daily Profcasts, fellow TDG writer George Bissell and I had Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus on as our guest for our Friday on the Farm show.  Wilson gets a chance to spend ample time covering the Cal League and with that he sees many top prospects come through.  One thing that he stressed to us in the conversation was just how important it is to see prospects recognize their shortcomings and take steps to correct them.  Here in 2015, no single player in the minor leagues has done this with more vigor than the Frisco RoughRiders Nick Williams.

Williams was drafted by the Texas Rangers with the 93rd overall pick straight out of high school.  At 6’3”, 195 lbs., his athleticism jumped off the page along with his incredible bat speed from the left side.  There is no doubt that even as an 18-year-old Williams felt that he was the best player at the level and as he progressed he continued to feel that way.  It wasn’t until the end of his third year as a professional, in 2014, when he reached AA for the first time that he finally looked overmatched.

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Scouring Midseason Prospect Rankings

We’ve reached the middle of July, which is when most prospect purveyors update their respective lists to reflect the multitude of changes that have occurred since the beginning of the season. As we’ve touched on before, it is extremely important to stay abreast of the constant changes in the valuation of prospects in order to run a profitable dynasty league franchise. Perceived value in the prospect world is very important, especially in trade talks where it can sometimes be the final piece of information that closes a deal, particularly if your trading partner lacks the knowledge of prospects (and life in general) that you, The Dynasty Guru reader has in spades.

We’ll be diving into the midseason rankings of:

John Sickelsthe proprietor of the outstanding SB Nation site Minor League Ball (who ranks 75 prospects)
Baseball America (who ranks 50 prospects)
Keith Law of ESPN.com Insider (who ranks 50 prospects)

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Midseason Catching Prospect Check-In

It’s hotter than the surface of the sun where I live and I’m going on vacation in three days, so let’s skip the pussyfooting around and get right down to business.

Several of the top catching prospects made it to the majors this year and/or exhausted their rookie eligibility, including Blake Swihart (#15 in our preseason top 50 catchers), Kyle Schwarber (#18), Kevin Plawecki (#29), Andrew Susac (#30), Austin Hedges (#37), Christian Bethancourt (#38), and J.T. Realmuto (#48). Here’s a quick update on the guys from our preseason list who are left in the minors and a word about a couple of risers who weren’t.

Jorge Alfaro, Texas Rangers (#16)

Alfaro’s season is likely over after having ankle surgery in June. Scouts seems somewhat divided, with some still placing him inside the top 50 on midseason lists and others taking a wait-and-see approach. Baseball Prospectus was highest at #34 and Keith Law also had him barely inside the top 5o while Baseball American and Minor League Ball did not. There’s no question Alfaro still possesses two elite tools in his raw power and cannon arm but over 49 games before the injury, Alfaro was striking out just shy of 30 percent of the time and only walking at a 4.3 percent clip. A 61:9 walk-to-strikeout at Double-A doesn’t portend great things for his ability to access his raw power as he moves up the ladder and the lost development time won’t help but Alfaro just turned 22 and still has the same high ceiling that earned him a spot inside our top 20 in the first place.

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The Two Best Center Fielders in the NPB

As the calendar ticks into late July and we’ve past the halfway through the 2015 season, we’ve seen quite a few breakout players here on the other side of the Pacific. Notably, a pair of center fielders have blossomed into legitimate superstars. Dynasty owners should be aware of these names. Put them in, coach, they’re ready to play.

Yuki Yanagita, OF, Softbank Hawks

Yanagita, left-handed batsman and right-handed thrower, shows remarkable and loud tools all across the game – tantalizing power, plus bat, lightning-fast wheels that allow him to cover tons of ground in center field and swipe a lot of bases, and a cannon for an arm.

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Trader’s Corner: Trade Deadlines are Getting Closer

It is time to make some decisions. Can you win the championship or do you need to do some rebuilding? The trade deadline is approaching in many leagues, so if you are going to make some moves to improve your team you better get on it now! All dynasty teams, no matter how good or bad, could use upgrades. If you don’t do it now you will have to wait until the offseason. Don’t squander this opportunity to improve your team.

Many trades are being made all over the country. This week I am seeing a lot of action surrounding Manny Machado and Gregory Polanco. I think some people are not convinced that Machado is the real deal, or else they are fearful he will blow out another knee and want to cash him in now while he is healthy. Regarding Polanco, perhaps people are not sure he will ever reach his potential or match the hype he generated in the minors. Are you buying or selling these guys?

By the way, use the form just above the comments section at the bottom of the page to submit your trades for us to vote on next week. Send in any interesting trades from your leagues so we can judge them! Now it is time to put some real fantasy trades to the test to find out if the trades were good or bad.

Time to Vote: (As always, vote for the players you would rather have…) Continue reading

Perusing Futures Game Pitchers

Let’s get our jump to conclusions mat out and make some rash judgments based upon hitters getting one or two at-bats playing in their first game in front of a more than a few thousand fans — or even better — let’s make some sweeping generalizations regarding starting pitchers who are overthrowing because they are only going to pitch one inning in an exhibition game. Or, let’s not ever do that. If you’re in need of that type of hard-hitting analysis, you can look at plenty of people’s Twitter feed from Sunday. As the Mike Pelfrey of Baseball Prospectus’ award-winning TINO podcast says, casting aspersions based upon one game makes about as much sense as following MLB Trade Rumors on Instagram.

To be sure, there is certainly knowledge to be gained from seeing top prospects play against each other on a major league field, but adjusting prospects ahead of one another based upon one game (which I saw plenty of going on while monitoring the game on Twitter) falls somewhere between dangerous and ludicrous. Instead, let’s take a look at a trio of prospects who appeared in Sunday’s Futures Game that are largely unowned in dynasty leagues and could see their value rise over the ‘second half’ of the season:
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2013 International Signings In Review

The July 2 international signing day came and went a week and a half ago and like much of the rest of the baseball world, I spent the day reading half-baked scouting reports on 16-years-olds, many of whom I may never hear from again. As a dynasty leaguer, I feel compelled to read up on these guys because they will become relevant soon but I’ve always struggled with just how soon.

2015’s class has some older prospects at the top that will beat the timelines of the typical July 2 signee. 19-year-old Yadier Alvarez and 20-year-old Eddy Martinez are Cubans who MLB added to the July 2 pool and 18-year-old Lucius Fox played high school baseball and the showcase circuit in the United States. You should be aggressive with those three. What about the rest?

I went back and looked the 2013 international crop to see where some of its top prospects are today. This is just one class and I have no idea if it’s representative – maybe that’s a study for another day – but I thought it might be instructive in answering how long I can wait before I get serious about Jhailyn Ortiz, Wander Javier, Seuly Matias, and the rest of the Dominican’s teenage population.

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The Verdict on 4 Struggling Hitting Stars: Cano, Desmond, Kemp and CarGo

There are several superstar hitters whose performances this year pale in comparison to our expectations. These players were expected to be elite contributors but so far have been huge disappointments to their fantasy owners. They cost you big time to acquire but they are killing  your team in the stat columns. Should you sell high or buy low? It is time to find out if they are going to bounce back or fade away.

Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners — 37 Runs, 6 Home Runs, 30 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases and .254 AVG

Cano came into the season ranked #11 on our Top 500 Overall Dynasty League Rankings. Right now at the halfway point of the season he has earned the #308 spot on 5×5 rankings for the year. That is quite a fall, and unlike with guys like Carlos Gomez, Yasiel Puig, Freddie Freeman, Adrian Beltre or Jacoby Ellsbury we cannot blame it on injuries. Cano has simply not played very well. His strikeout rate has nearly doubled from last year while his walk rate has halved. We all expected to see Cano’s home run rate fall off when he moved to Seattle and we were right, but he still had an excellent season last year for the Mariners. His 136 wRC+ was even better than his 125 career average, although it was slightly down from his last few years in New York. This year his wRC+ has dropped 50 points to 86. That’s right, the great Robinson Cano has hit 14% worse than an average major league hitter this year. This is not the first time this has happened though. The only other time Cano has slumped lower than 100 on his wRC+ was 2008 when he sat at 86 just like this year. The following year he bounced back and went on to string together seven elite seasons for the Yankees. Continue reading

Introducing the 2015 All-Waiver Wire Team

Below are a list of magnificent finds at each position that were taken well outside the range that most productive starters were selected.  I give you both the pre-season ADP and where the player currently stands at their position on ESPN’s Player Rater as we draw near to the season’s midway point.  If you own any of these players you have gotten quite a bit more out of them than you ever expected.

Catcher-Welington Castillo, ESPN PR Rank: 20th, Rank of last 30 Days: 4th

ADP Pre-Season, Position: 37th, Overall: 492

What a whirlwind season it has been for Castillo who started the season with the Cubs before being moved to the Mariners.  Castillo found himself in Seattle for less than two weeks before he was flipped to Arizona where he has revitalized his career as the top option for the team.  Since joining the Diamondbacks, Castillo has been deadly vs four-seam fastballs hitting .417 vs the pitch.  This is great for him since he has been seeing 66.2% hard pitches.   With five of his seven home runs coming in Arizona expect more production from Mr. Castillo.

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