TDG’s Triple Play: Detroit Tigers!
Your senior dynasty analysts enter the second season of the Triple Play! The regular feature breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
Spencer Turnbull, Age: 26, SP
Analysis by: Adam Lawler
During the summer of 2014, something amazing happened. Guardians of the Galaxy became a wildly popular success. Meanwhile, Spencer Turnbull was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the second round out of the University of Alabama. This stout righty had a long journey from Tuscaloosa to Detroit. After a few nagging shoulder injuries, Turnbull’s calling card – a 5 pitch mix – became a mediocre and blended mush bowl of velocity bands, making the whole profile blegh. Reports as recently as this year had Turnbull destined for the bullpen. Then, as with most things in this wild world of pitching prospects, something unique happened.
Taking a Turn for the Better?
Sometimes, unlocking pitchers can be difficult. With Turnbull, it’s pretty cut-and-dried.
During the early phase of the 2019 campaign, Turnbull has relied heavily on the usage of his four-seam fastball and a de-emphasis of his sinker. The implementation of said pitch, which hits an average of 93 MPH, is completely devastating against right-handed bats. This is largely due to the placement of it as it tails away with an above average spin in on the batter.
The results are remarkable. The revelation of this pitch has allowed for the velocity bands to spread out and the secondary offerings to play up. Turnbull is limiting the ability to make solid contact as exemplified by an 18% drop in hard-hit rate and a halving of his barrel % between 2018 and 2019.
Reviewing his splits show that Turnbull is top 20 in ground ball %. That in and of itself is a very good result. However, perhaps the most stunning outcome is that he has yet to allow a home run against a right-handed batter this year. That’s right: in a year where balls fly out of the park at an alarming rate, Turnbull laughs into the void, as exemplified by striking out JD Martinez.
Cut the Bull
Is this a small sample? Probably, but it’s repeatable. Turnbull isn’t doing anything that seems so far beyond that pale that he couldn’t mirror this success for the foreseeable future. A hard, heavy fastball that provides fits to right-handed batters? Sure.
Still, he’s playing above his head. At some point in the near future, he’ll allow a home run to a right-hander. Turnbull’s xFIP sits at 4.26 at the time of this writing. Within the MLB, it is one of the biggest differences compared to his current ERA. So we should expect some level of regression, but when you throw five pitches, you’re going to keep batters at bay.
Detroit’s future is bright. Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Beau Burrows, and Casey Mize all wait in the wings. Michael Fulmer’s arm will heal and he will make his triumphant return. Meanwhile, Turnbull has shown that he can be a cog in this rotation and should be considered as one for your dynasty team over the next few years. Next year, we’re doing it wrong if he’s not within the top 60 starting pitchers during our preseason ranks, and that may be conservative.
Miguel Cabrera, Age: 36, DH
Analysis by: Keaton O. DeRocher
Now His Watch Begins
Just to peel back the curtain of the process of the Triple Play for a second: we set this up in the offseason where we peg out who we will write about. We do it on a first come first serve style so basically someone creates the google doc and then we just start picking out people and positions. If you snooze, you may end up with some crap pulls. Well, that’s what happened to me. I was late to the party this year and I ended up with some real black hole teams and positions. Honestly, this slot has been filled with ‘???’ for months. I had no idea who to write about since I wrote about Nick Castellanos last year. So instead, let me just present an ode to one of the best hitters of a generation. It all started in House Marlins of Florida, burst onto the scene as a rookie and won a world series in 2013. After House Marlins was completely dismantled, he bent the knee for House Tigers of Detroit, and the ridiculousness continued. He was basically The Sword of the Morning, racking up titles titles titles, like, 11 All-star games, 2 MVPs, he even nabbed a triple crown, couple Hank Aaron awards, a batting title, and 7 Silver Sluggers. If you look up his stat-cast page it’s basically the red sea. Safe to say this dude is not far off from the Hall of Fame.
We Shall Never See His Like Again
Even fighting through injuries the past couple seasons, Miggy has continued to rank at the top of the Statcast leader board for quality of contact. Even in a down year like 2017 where he hit below .270 for the first time in his career, he ranked in the top 3% for exit velocity and hard-hit rate. In 2018 in a season where he was very limited due to injuries, he again was at the top of the leader boards in quality fo contact, notching a hard hit rate over 50% and an exit velocity 3 miles an hour harder than his 2017 mark. Even though the power has dipped significantly, he’s still a monster in average leagues or on-base leagues.
And Now His Watch Has Almost Ended
Now, unfortunately, fantasy isn’t based on the past and we have to play for the future. Miggy’s value, which not too long ago was top five in the game, is a far cry from the top of the world, but he’s still providing value. As long as his quality of contact isn’t taking significant steps back he can still be a very useful piece for average or on-base leagues, whichever you may be in. While you could certainly do better at the position, you can also do far worse, if 1B/UTL is a black hole for a contending team I’d feel pretty confident in scooping him up, and it shouldn’t take much to acquire.
Daz Cameron, 22, OF AAA
Son of Mike Cameron, Daz was snatched up by the Houston Astros in the 2015 draft. Cameron was fawned over for his “feel” of the game, but scouts were quick to nit-pick his skill set. Equipped with the family name, pedigree, and high-level performance in High School, there was plenty of reason to draft him. Questions always seemed to fall around whether Cameron can hit. The defense has never been a concern, especially with most scouting reports indicating that he posses plus speed. He could be awfully fun to watch in center field at Comerica Park. Defense, however, is not something we care too much about in our game. So what value does young Daz Cameron bring us dynasty fiends?
2018 The Road from High-A to Triple-A
After absolutely carving up A-Ball in 2017, it was off the races with Cameron in 2018. The Astros were not afraid to be aggressive with the centerfielder as he saw not one, but three different levels over the course of the season. Displaying a smattering of homers (8), plenty of steals (24), and a measured-but-aggressive approach at the plate. He seemed to hit a stumbling block when he reached Triple-A as he managed to only post a .206/.311/.392 slash line. However, he rebounded with a vengeance in the Arizona Fall League and so the bar is set high for what Daz can do in 2019.
2019? Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Roads
When Cameron first started playing professional baseball he struggled to keep up with older players. He was 2.6 years younger than the average player in his league in Rookie ball. Cameron is now 5.1 years younger than the average player in his league. He is struggling as he did when he first entered the league, and my guess is that he’s likely struggling due to adjusting to the level of competition. This is something we’ll continue to see when he eventually fields Detroit’s outfield in the near future. The time taken for adjustment, though, should pay dividends as he’s managed to adjust and perform well at each other level thus far. It could even present a buying opportunity: if he struggles in his first taste of The Show, a frustrated owner may be willing to take what they can get for him.
Current and Future Dynasty Value
The value of Cameron is perfect for rebuilding teams. I don’t believe that once he hits the majors that he’ll dominate straight away, but I am hopeful that he’ll be a .260/.330/.400 player that contributes in both home runs and even more so in steals. He’ll also be in the majors soon, like potentially this year soon. The speed should be an immediate asset, but the rest of his bat probably takes some time to catch up. Teams that are in contention now can move Cameron without too much worry. I’d even consider moving him for a pick depending on my roster depth, but he wouldn’t be the world’s worst bench bat to have around. Exercise patience with Daz Cameron and good things will come.
Previously Covered Teams
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