The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play: San Francisco Giants!
Welcome to The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play! This is a series where three of the Dynasty Guru’s nerdier baseball writers – Adam Lawler, Patrick Magnus, and Keaton O. DeRocher- bring to you a succinct analysis of a pitcher, a hitter and a prospect from each organization. We’ll be running this regularly until we cover all 30 teams!
Each team will be covered in alphabetical order. This article we’re covering the San Francisco Giants. And, while we here at The Dynasty Guru are primarily baseball obsessed, we’ll also be touching on some music we’ve enjoyed from each team’s home state. Enjoy, and leave us your question and comments below!
Buster Posey, 31, C
Analysis by Patrick Magnus
Catchers are generally dragging down your average, OBP, and putting up very few counting stats. In a world of terrible catching options that often produce negative value for your fantasy teams, there is the occasional good offensive catcher. Imagine living in a world where you are not always looking for the least terrible option at catcher! That dream has been a reality for Posey owners for almost a decade.
Buster Posey has been a positive at the position for the entirety of his career. In fact, he’s occupied the top tier of the position for essentially the entirety of his career. However, with the rise of Gary Sanchez and Willson Contreras, he has started to lose his label as the best catcher in the game. But ultimately it won’t be his competition that will be the undoing of Posey’s reign, but rather father time.
Aging with Grace: A Joe Mauer Comparison
When considering an aging elite catcher, we’ve got a great case study in the living robotic legend Joe Mauer. I’ve always been a sucker for Mauer. He certainly won’t provide much in the way of counting stats, but his plate skills are still elite. Not every player will age like David Ortiz, especially not former catchers. Thus, often the best we can hope for from an aging player is that they maintain one or two elite skills.
Name Age PA BB% K% ISO wOBA
Buster Posey 27 606 7.8% 11.4% .179 .371
Joe Mauer 27 584 11.1% 9.1% .141 .377
Buster Posey 28 623 9.0% 8.3% .153 .363
Joe Mauer 28 333 9.6% 11.4% .081 .321
Buster Posey 29 614 10.4% 11.1% .147 .341
Jose Mauer 29 641 14% 13.7% .127 .376
Buster Posey 30 568 10.7% 11.6% .142 .366
Joe Mauer 30 508 12% 17.5% .153 .383
Buster Posey 31 153 10.5% 11.8% .118 .348
Joe Mauer 31 518 11.6% 18.5% .095 .322
Obliviously not a perfect comparison. The limited at-bats this season may offer us a glimpse into what 2018 may look like for Posey though, as the lines are quite similar. There are a tremendous amount of similar numbers throughout their age and offensive production. The closest would be plate discipline. Posey has a career 9.6 BB% and 12 K% rate compared to Mauer’s godlike 12.1 K% and 12. 8 BB%.
Mauer’s plate discipline has stuck around as he’s aged, reaching about 20 K% since his age-31 season, and never walking less than 10% of his plate appearances. He does not get enough credit for this, and is an asset in deepest of leagues at age 35 as a UT or CI. I love him the same way the TDG podcast loves Joe Panik.
If you haven’t started shouting at your computer screen about how Joe Mauer no longer plays catcher anymore, and hasn’t for a long time, God bless you. I promise, I’m getting to that.
Projecting Buster Posey’s Future Position Eligibility
At this point in his career, Mauer had transitioned from catcher due to medical concerns. Stephania Bell of ESPN has often made the point that there is no such thing as a “mild” concussion, and the Twins have reinforced that Mauer would never play catcher again as late as 2016.
Posey, for the most part, has incredible luck in avoiding the disabled list. Well, minus that time he broke his leg defending the plate and baseball rewrote the rules on catcher collisions. Other than that, he’s managed to only appear on the disabled list one other time. Which, for the record, is absolutely incredible! Earlier this year though, Posey’s second trip to the disabled list came from a concussion. Uh, oh.
Thus far the Giants have chosen to continue splitting Posey’s time between catcher and first base with the majority of his at-bats still coming from catching. Take a look at his splits the past few years.
|Year||% of PA’s Catcher||% of PA’s First Base|
That looks like a pretty definitive trend to me. My educated guess is that he’ll maintain catcher eligibility until the end of his contract with the Giants in 2022. So while we’re certainly closer to the end of Posey’s days of catching, Posey will keep catcher eligibility for a perfect amount of time in a dynasty league (generally our rankings are done with 3-5 year projections in mind).
Buster Posey is Still Good at Hitting Baseballs
Buster Posey does not yet utilize a cane or a walker when he is behind the plate. That is to say, he’s not old. Yet he is now amongst the walking dead in dynasty because he is over 30 years of age. Truth is that while Posey posted a 4.3 WAR in 2017, his power has been on the decline for sometime now.
As you can see from this beautiful Fangraphs graph, the one factor truly separating Posey from Mauer is going away, and it’s unlikely to come back. Father time comes for us all, and our youth, which was once so vibrant, slowly fades to black.
The good news for Posey is that he’s still a very good hitter. He’s hitting the ball with the same authority as he was last year (88.7 MPH exit velocity) and his launch angle is within career norms. He’s also making better quality contact, barreling the ball 6.5% of the time (in comparison to last years 3.5%), and making significantly less weak contact as well. If he could improve his launch angle by a bit he could even possibly hit for more power than he did last year (12 HR).
You heard it here first, Buster Posey is still good baseball.
Is Buster Posey is a Viable Option for Your Dynasty Team?
The days of Posey being the best catcher in the league are most likely over. While the combination of counting stats made him king for the majority of his career, he must now slowly fade into an under-appreciated fantasy asset. He’ll still run into his fair share of home runs, perhaps reaching the mid-teens a time or two before he hangs up the cleats. That certainly shouldn’t be the expectation though.
If an owner is feeling busted over owning Buster, then bust down the door and bust-a-move. He is certainly not the Posey we loved in his heyday, but getting positive value out of catcher in dynasty and two-catcher formats can be a real challenge. I would encourage most teams who are in contention to hold Posey, and teams moving into their contention cycles to buy.
Patrick’s Artist Selection
Jeff Samardzija, Age: 33, SP
Analysis by: Keaton O. DeRocher
If you listen to our podcast, then you already know I’m not the biggest Samardzija fan. If you hate the sound of my voice, then have no fear: I’m here to tell you in text that Jeff Samardzija is bad. Stop owning him, and if you need an innings-eater go somewhere else. I promise you that there are better options. This shark should be extinct.
Kill The Shark
Let’s start off with the one positive you can get from Samardzija: he doesn’t walk many batters at all. Honestly, though, I believe this is due to the fact he keeps everything in the strike zone and his stuff isn’t swing-and-miss, as evidenced by his 8.14 career K/9. And here it is broken down further by zone:
The chart on the left shows the swing rate, which is a bunch of red and purple, which is a good thing because people are swinging at his pitches, however, the chart on the right shows the whiffs/swing which is a WHOLE bunch of blue. He doesn’t get many people to miss his pitches, and when the vast majority of said pitches are right in the strike zone, that means Samardzija is giving up hits, and quite a lot of them.
In Samardzija’s two most successful seasons, he had ground ball rates at 48% or higher. When was the last time he had a ground ball rate that high? I’m glad you asked: it was 2014. Since then, his ground ball rates have fluctuated between 32.6% and 46.5%, Further, his line drive rate has remained stable at around 20%, so the extra hits he’s giving up have been fly balls. Not coincidentally, his HR/FB has spiked as well. In 2014 it was 10.6%, and each season since it’s gotten higher-10.8% in 2015, 11.9% in 2016, 13.8% in 2017, and 11.4% through 30 innings so far this season. Couple that HR/FB with his well-below-average strand rate of 70.6% and you have yourself a recipe for disaster at SP. Including the small sample size he has so far this season, three of the last four seasons Samardzija’sstrandd rate has been below 70%. Even with his low walk rate, his career whip is 1.25. He allows too many men on base and he can’t keep them from scoring.
Jeff Samardzija is not a good fantasy asset. He’s doesn’t provide you much value besides innings and in fantasy thats much less valuable than in real life. Even so, the innings he provides will be not be great. Samardzija does not possess an overwhelming surplus of diggity, no doubt.
Keaton’s Artist Selection:
Dereck Rodríguez, 25, P
Buzz Off, San Francisco
The San Francisco Giants farm system is depressing. You would think the Giants would be a little more forward-thinking, what with them being next to Silicon Valley, sharing a city with the Golden State Warriors and their “Beautiful Chaos” theory working in the NBA, and having their even-year bullhonk for the better part of the last decade. Sadly, no. Their farm system is an abomination. Their most recent “gems” include Ty Blach, Mac Williamson, Andrew Suarez, and Gorkys Hernandez. When I picture the Giant’s farm system, I envision this looking back at me:
A Dere-liction of Duties
Perhaps the only thing worse than the toxic tire fire of the farm system is the Giant’s rotation. Madison Bumgarner is rehabbing, Johnny Cueto is out, and somehow Chris Archer is pitching better than Jeff Samadizja. You have the #BlachHole flimsily keeping things together. Remember Chris Stratton? He was good in a game once. And uh… Andrew…(checks MLB website a third time)…Suarez… is a baseball player who pitches. Suffice to say there’s an opportunity for someone to come up and relatively shine. That someone may be Dereck Rodriguez.
I know, I know. Who? I didn’t know he existed until I read Melissa Lockard’s piece in The Athletic earlier last week. As Melissa notes, Dereck is the son of Ivan “Pudge” Rodríguez. The 25 year-old righty started out as an outfielder in the Twins organization, bounced around the MiLB for the last eight years, and is on the precipice of making it to the Show as a result of the rotating trash heaps that inhabit the Giants’ mound.
After being drafted out of high school, Rodríguez washed out as a bat in the Twins system due to a +40% strike out rate. However, he displayed natural athletic talent and a cannon for an arm, so rather than cut bait, scouts asked him to take to the bump. As you can guess for any player making a transition to pitcher, the transition is gradual and the success rate is low.
However, Rodríguez has been a mixed bag so far. According to Lockard, Rodríguez sports a low-to-mid 90s fastball, 12-6 curve, a changeup and slider. He sports a 3.52 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP over 420 innings pitched. Oddly though, the underlying metrics are blaring warning sirens (8.45 DRA, 5.41 FIP). Also, he does have that Twins “strikeout stench” on him, sporting a career K/9 of 7.8. Yet there’s room for hope. Since arriving to the Giants organization this year, that rate has increased significantly to 9.3 per 9. My guess is that San Francisco is asking him to emphasize the curveball usage more as that part of their organizations M.O. which has led to an increased K rate.
Here is a glimpse of his fastball touching 94 MPH as he strikes out the side:
Here’s a taste of his curve:
Here’s a sample of his changeup:
Not bad. Not too bad at all. From the video we have available, he has nice splits in his velocity bands (FB 91-94, CB 84-86). He is a little wild, especially lacking command of his fastball when he amps it up. I’d like to see a bit more of a plane break on his curve too, but it’s good enough. Again, he’s a bit of a mixed bag.
Dereck Rodríguez isn’t owned anywhere (Fantrax 0%). He probably should be at this point. It actually boggles my mind he’s not owned in 20 team dynasty leagues or deep farm system leagues. The opportunity for him is coming, and, as San Francisco takes its last gasps of competitiveness, I see Rodríguez in their rotation over the next couple of years. If you’re looking around and taking fliers for the future, you could do worse than Dereck Rodríguez.
Adam’s Artist Selection
I am kind of cheating here. In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk turned me on to Miles Davis. When I first started accruing vinyl records, I found this gem in my grandparent’s basement. I blew off the dust, threw on the headphones, and learned that Miles Davis was the coolest dude on the planet. I’m not one of those believers that all jazz is good or bad. Some of it is objectively terrible. Miles Davis is objectively great.
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Previously Covered Teams
|NL CENTRAL||NL EAST|