Don’t Forget About Jurickson Profar

Remember 2013? Harlem Shake videos were all the rage, James Franco had that movie with the dreadlocks, the Boston Red Sox won a World Series, and we witnessed the greatest play in college football history. It was a fun time! Mike Trout had just taken the league by storm en route to perhaps the greatest rookie season of all time, and fantasy players turned their attention to industry prospect lists, desperately searching for the next big thing to prop their teams up for years to come. Sometimes it’s difficult for the industry to come to a consensus anointing top prospects. This wasn’t the case in 2013. Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, Baseball America, everyone agreed on the player at the pinnacle of prospect lists. It wasn’t Gerrit Cole. It wasn’t Jose Fernandez or Chris Archer. It was a shortstop, but it wasn’t Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts. Unanimously, the consensus next big thing was Jurickson Profar.

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Building a Balanced Team: Conclusion

Over the last several weeks, we have identified catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops, and outfielders who have the potential to contribute to three or more hitting categories. Today, we’ll compare our evaluations of each position to determine relative values and scarcity. As a reminder on the methodology behind this series, I began this exercise by gathering data for each position over the past decade (plus a bonus year because why not?) to determine the average production for each hitting category. In order to eliminate outliers resulting from limited sample sizes, I used a 400-plate appearance qualifier for all positions with the exception of catcher, for which I set the threshold at 300 plate appearances. I also wanted to control for lost playing time resulting from unforeseeable injuries, so rather than calculate the average counting stat totals for each category, I calculated the ratio of plate appearances to each counting stat (e.g. 30 plate appearances per home run as opposed to an average of 20 home runs).

After calculating the baseline for each category and year, I tallied the number of players who met three or more category thresholds as a measure of positional scarcity. I then calculated the average for each category and position over the 11-year period to reduce the noise and determine the baselines we will use to identify multi-category contributors in our draft.  Once the 11-year baselines were calculated, I converted the ratios back to counting stats based on 600 plate appearances (450 for catchers) so that we could easily compare each position. Finally, since not all positions will produce the same value, I calculated the composite z-score for each, which reflects the sum of standard deviations each position falls above or below each of the categorical averages over the 11-year period. Since most five-category players are properly valued in drafts and dynasty leagues, this value will help us prioritize the positions we should target when attempting to build a balanced roster.

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Trader’s Corner: Everybody Wants Xander Bogaerts

We had lots of trades submitted this week by our readers. The big mover was Xander Bogaerts but his price was steep. If you own a great young player like the Red Sox shortstop or perhaps Manny Machado this might be the best time of year to trade them. Right now there are likely lots of teams in your league who feel they have a chance to win the championship this year. After the season starts some of those teams will begin their descent down the standings as they fall out of contention. Those teams will no longer be buyers and will quickly become sellers. The time to sell is when the number of buyers is highest and the number of sellers is lowest. That time is now! If you already know you will not win your league this year it is wise to start selling right now to get the players you feel will help you climb to the top of the pack the quickest.

There are some ithough-provoking deals below. I also pose you a question about trade vetoes.

You can join in the action two ways: 1) Vote on these trades to make your opinion count. 2) Submit your own trades for us to vote on in the next Trader’s Corner. Use the form below to submit your trade.

Vote for the players you would rather have.

Taylor Funk submitted this trade from his 5×5 league with contracts:

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How Bad is Billy Hamilton?

It is easy to sit back and really hate on the guy.  While he’s had success in the minors, its almost entirely been with his legs.  People have always questioned his actual talent as a hitter, and deservedly so.  He’s fresh off a season where he had a putrid .226/.274/.289 line.  While he didn’t qualify for the batting title, his .563 OPS was lower than Chris Owings who posted the lowest qualified OPS in baseball last year.

The big question is, should we still hope for a better future?  In 2015 he had shoulder, wrist, groin, and finger injuries, with the shoulder lingering all season, and resulting in surgery which he is still recovering from.  He was limited to only 114 games, and while on the field, his already choppy swing, became uncomfortable.

But despite these injuries, it appears he grew as a hitter while dealing with a litany of issues. He certainly was not hitting the ball as hard as last season (19.4% hard hit rate in 2015, 20.5% in 2014), or on a line as often (19.6% in 2015, 21.1% in 2014), but he was improving in other aspects of his game:

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The One That Amost Got Away – Wil Myers Edition

The post-hype prospect is the “one that got away” of fantasy baseball. Your relationship with that player has been broken for a while, but when you are alone, you can’t resist watching his highlight videos on YouTube and obsessing over his subtle bat flips. You daydream about his 6-hit, 6-power combo starting to click and the .400 wOBA seasons ahead. There is no way that this guy can’t be the one. Look at what he did to minor league pitching. Look at the MLB debut. This was a monster, can’t-miss prospect. He had very few weaknesses.

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“We both know that Dallas Keuchel is an ace, right?”

“We both know that Dallas Keuchel is an ace.” Or so my potential trading partner claimed. The message in question was in regards to a trade-block entry I submitted indicating my interest in making one last blockbuster move towards a title push. I was offering what I considered to be a plum set of prospects, Tyler Glasnow and Rafael Devers, plus, if necessary my early first-round pick in which all 2015 Rule 4 draftees were first eligible. My request was a legitimate ace and a quality closer. I had hoped to acquire a Jose Fernandez, Jacob deGrom, Stephen Strasburg- type but had not received the interest I anticipated. So I began to wonder, is Dallas Keuchel an ace? My instinct is to be suspicious of breakouts without solid evidence of skill growth. So, did Dallas Keuchel grow into an ace or was he just the recipient of a lucky season?

Keuchel broke into the majors in 2013 and showed no indication that he was ready to be a frontline starter. Owners that were fortunate enough to add him in early 2014 after a fast start were likely pleasantly surprised as he finished the season with an ERA of 2.93, down from a ghastly 5.15 in 2013, driven by a rebound in BABIP, which dropped from a ridiculously high .350 to a near league average of .295. Owners who believed in his breakout were richly rewarded as his stats from 2015 were absolutely worthy of being considered ace-calibur. He was the fifth overall pitcher on ESPN’s Player Rater. His strongest category was wins, a notoriously fickle statistic, but he was extremely good across the board. The increase in performance seemed to be driven by two factors, strikeout rate and BABIP.

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Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number – Part II

Last week, I covered some veteran hitters whose 2016 ADP wasn’t quite lining up with their positional ranking from 2015. This week I take a look at seven veteran pitchers, many of them undervalued, who may be an inexpensive missing piece for a championship run or a solid sell for a quick rebuild.  Continue reading

Building a Balanced Team: Outfield

Over the last several weeks, we have identified catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops who have the potential to contribute to three or more hitting categories. Today we conclude our quest to build a balanced team and turn to the outfield. As a reminder on the methodology behind this series, I began this exercise by gathering data for each position over the past decade (plus a bonus year because why not?) to determine the average production for each hitting category. In order to eliminate outliers resulting from limited sample sizes, I used a 400-plate appearance qualifier for all positions with the exception of catcher, for which I set the threshold at 300 plate appearances. I also wanted to control for lost playing time resulting from unforeseeable injuries, so rather than calculate the average counting stat totals for each category, I calculated the ratio of plate appearances to each counting stat (e.g. 30 plate appearances per home run as opposed to an average of 20 home runs).

After calculating the baseline for each category and year, I tallied the number of players who met three or more category thresholds as a measure of positional scarcity. Finally, I calculated the average for each category and position over the 11-year period to reduce the noise and determine the baselines we will use to identify multi-category contributors in our draft. For those who have the time, I highl1y recommend creating your own player projections and comparing them against the following baseline calculations, but for this article, I am going to use the Steamer 600 projections provided by Fangraphs. For reference, current NFBC ADP figures for each player are listed in parenthesis.

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10 Post-Hype Hitters for 2016

It’s often useful to have a short memory when it comes to fantasy baseball. Players can see their long-term stock swing greatly in a matter of days, and owners slow to the draw can miss out on either securing a great breakout player or selling too late. There’s plenty of times when breakout players just don’t break out, or sleepers never wake up. It’s a good idea to move on from these fliers, instead seeking more promising options. Despite all this, keeping past sleepers or top prospects in the back of your mind can be a good strategy. Post-hype players are a largely untapped market in fantasy baseball, and while the number of players that end up returning value may be smaller, they can still turn into useful assets. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most promising post-hype hitters of 2016.

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Curb Your Regression Enthusiasm: Francisco Lindor

Death, taxes, and regression. They come for us all, eventually. The problem, however, is that sometimes we can rely too much on the big “R” word when faced with unexpected productivity, and we brush aside underlying factors necessary to understand what happened and what the future may hold. This certainly seems to be the case with Francisco Lindor as he enters his second year in the big leagues. Typically in dynasty leagues, a shortstop coming off of a 12-homer, 12-steal campaign at 21-years-old, is seen as a legitimate building block type player. While he might be, there doesn’t seem to be much optimism that Lindor can repeat his stellar rookie numbers, much less improve upon them. Many are even predicting a significant drop off in several offensive categories because of, yep you guessed it, regression.

While that certainly might be the case, regression could pump the brakes on another breakout season, there are quite a few areas in Lindor’s offensive profile that indicate improvement moving forward. If that’s the case, and 2015 was a baseline for Lindor rather than an outlier, he could be not only a Gold Glove shortstop moving forward, but also a fantasy stud, a top-30 dynasty asset moving forward.

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