TDG’s Triple Play: Miami Marlins!
The Triple Play is back for a third season! This regular feature is broken down by staff writers Bob Osgood and Paul Monte and a rotating panel of third writers. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure! Follow Bob (@BobOsgood15), Paul (@3cardmonte13), and Trevor Foster (@TrevFost) on twitter and read their analysis here at the site!
Pitcher: Sandy Alcantara, Age: 24, Position: SP
Analysis by: Bob Osgood
Can the mascot be our all-star rep?
A fantasy owner’s initial glance at Sandy Alcantara’s 2019 as a whole gives little-to-nothing that sticks out. He finished 87th on the Razzball Player Rater for Starting Pitchers, providing a negative value in WHIP (1.32) and Wins (6) while leading the National League in losses (14). He had a zero value in K’s (153) with only 6.9 Ks per 9 innings, and only provided a positive value in ERA (3.88) that some believed was lucky due to a 4.55 FIP. His projections for 2020 expect the WHIP and ERA to increase, and the Marlins expect to be barely improved for a Win total. We should sell, right?!
If we broke the 2019 season down with a split on July 31, the story on Alcantara is a lot different. And hell, if MLB isn’t going to play before the end of July in 2020, who cares what he did before that?
The change was in his sinker usage from August 1st on, and the effectiveness of every one of his pitches from that point forward is glaring, excluding the Curveball (3% usage). Per Brooks Baseball:
As Eno Sarris outlined in the spring of 2019 regarding Alcantara’s previous season, “The ball rate on his sinker is 20 percent higher than it is on his four-seamer, and STATs’ Command+ on the sinker is below average, so he does have some command issues on the fastball.” In 2019, as a whole, Alcantara actually threw fewer balls on the sinker than he did on the four-seam fastball (33.3% vs. 34.7%). That sinker is an “eye test” pitch for me with both velocity and movement that I believe will be featured for Alcantara going forward. For example, here is a video of a gentleman by the name of Ronald Acuna chasing a gorgeous 1-2 sinker on August 10th, after the change in pitch mix.
Alcantara often ramps up to 98 on the pitch, although it sits between 95 and 96. Although his strikeout rate has room for improvement, Alcantara allowed only a 34.3% hard-hit rate (via Statcast), landing in the top 30% of the league, and induced 44.6% ground balls keeping his ERA well below the peripheral numbers. He was second in all of MLB in double plays induced, with 23, and was in the 81st percentile in Exit Velocity allowed.
Alcantara pitched on Opening Day for the Marlins in 2019, was their lone all-star, took the ball every fifth day for 32 starts and threw 197 1/3 innings at the age of 23. That was the 17th most innings pitched in all of baseball. For perspective, the only other pitcher under the age of 24 to even come close to Alcantara was Jack Flaherty at 196 1/3, 19th in IP, followed by Mike Soroka 174 2/3, 41st in IP. In addition, the only three pitchers to throw two complete-game shutouts in 2019: Shane Bieber, Lucas Giolito, Sandy Alcantara. Largely irrelevant innings that show improvement on a bad team early in one’s career should be the experience needed for a pitcher with the stuff that Alcantara has down the line when the Marlins, eventually, maybe, someday, have a competitive team to put out on the field. While I’m cautiously optimistic in redraft formats right now, I am buying Alcantara in dynasty as a long-term SP3 with an even greater upside if he can continue throwing close to 200 innings a season.
Hitter: Brian Anderson, Age: 27, Position: 3B/OF
Analysis by: Trevor Foster
Life of Bri
Since the Marlins were acquired by Derek Jeter and company in 2017, the franchise has been in a state of flux, jettisoning their top talent in favor of prospects and reduced payroll. Even the “Home Run Sculpture” was not safe from the changes as it was uprooted from left-center field and placed outside the stadium. (In all seriousness, that may be the best move they have made since 2017) [The views of Trevor Foster regarding the Home Run Sculpture do not necessarily reflect those of The Dynasty Guru or his editor- Ed.]
Going into the 2020 season, only 5 players from the 2017 roster remain: Adam Conley, Drew Steckenrider, Jose Urena, Miguel Rojas, and Brian Anderson. What differentiates Anderson from the rest is that as the youngest and most talented of the holdovers, he is truly a player for the Marlins to build around. Since he was called up to the Marlins in late 2017, the former third-round pick has been a consistent and solid performer for his real-life team, but generally unspectacular for our make-believe teams. As a result of this, Anderson is often overlooked for fantasy purposes, but should he be?
Brian Started the Fire!
On the surface, Anderson’s 2019 triple slash of .261/.342/.468 may appear as a step back from the .273/.357/.400 he posted in 2018, but do not let it fool you. A look “under the hood” shows that Anderson had made many improvements before his season was cut short after being hit by a pitch and breaking his hand.
Anderson adjusted his plate approach in 2019, becoming more aggressive, and while this approach led to a bit more swing and miss (which he will have to keep in check) it also led to batted ball improvements across the board. He saw a 3% jump in barrel rate to 8.9% as well as a 3% jump in Hard-Hit percentage to 45.7%, which was in the 86th percentile per Statcast. Those increases, coupled with a 2.4% improvement in his launch angle (which also resulted in a 6.4% decrease in GB% and 6.8% increase in FB%), led to a career-high .207 ISO, .468 Slugging, and 20 home runs. This marked a nine home run improvement versus 2018 and he did it in 150 fewer plate appearances. Anderson does not just have pull side power either, as seven of his twenty home runs were to the opposite field. The power gains are not just a product of the juiced ball, they are real and with the Marlins moving in the center field and right-center field fences, Anderson has the potential to be a consistent 25 home run threat.
The Marlins made a few notable additions this offseason in Jonathan Villar, Jesus Aguilar, and Corey Dickerson. While they are not as good of a supporting cast as Peter, Lois, and Stewie, they do represent a major upgrade to the Marlins lineup and will easily be the best lineup Anderson has been a part of since his 25-game stint in 2017. Anderson is currently slated to hit 2nd behind Villar and in front of Dickerson and Aguilar which should provide him with more Run and RBI opportunities than he has seen in the past two seasons.
He may not be watched by millions on Sunday nights, but do not expect Anderson to be an overlooked fantasy option for much longer. Entering his third full season, he is primed to take another step forward and have a breakout campaign. While it is not completely realistic to expect Anderson to jump into the top tier of third basemen, he should be a solid corner infield starter or even a third base starter in deeper leagues. Going past pick 200 in start-up drafts, Anderson is a fantastic value and a great dynasty buy as he should not cost much to acquire.
Prospect: Edward Cabrera, Age: 22, Position: SP, Level: Double-A
Analysis by: Paul Monte
Not this year
If you’re reading this, you’re likely aware that the minor league season is not going to happen. Most prospects will lose a year of development. The strange thing is that most are in the same boat, some top guys will get some time in the major leagues because of the expanded rosters but most will stay in instructional leagues. The Marlins are in an interesting position. They are not expected to win in 2020, but a shortened season will lead to a great deal of randomness. They may find themselves in a pennant chase or at the least a Wild Card chase in an expanded playoff scenario.
One of the agreements originally was that playing time would be prorated, so calling up a player for 20 games could count as almost half of a season of service time. Will teams like the Marlins burn that, or will they turn to openers and bullpen games just to get through this joke of a season? The good news is, this is dynasty. Unless you play in a contract league, seeing a prospect get the call will not affect your long-term outlook and could even help you. Why not let the guy get his feet wet in this glorified spring training?
One Big Fish
One of the guys that could see time is Edward Cabrera. The 6’4”, 22-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic pitched very well in 2019 and ended the season at Double A. He has progressed nicely at all levels since being signed for $100,000 in 2015. This jump was by far the best in his short career as he raised his K% from 21.1% in 2018 to 30.3% in 2019, including 27.6% in Double-A. More importantly, he lowered his BB% from 9.6 in A ball to a combined 8.1% in 2019. The biggest knock on Cabrera is that he only threw 100.1 innings in 2018 and 90.2 in 2019. He will need to prove that he can handle the workload of a major league starter and the 2020 schedule will not cooperate with his needs. This likely pushes his rotation debut out until late 2021 at best.
Cabrera has reached the point where his cost is matching up with his future value. He ranked 151st in this year’s Dynasty Pitchers Ranking and he is a consensus Top 100 prospect on most sites. As of today, he projects to be a middle of the rotation starter which is very valuable. He is likely owned in most leagues, but his trade value is still low enough to make him a decent trade target. Since this year is lost it may be tough to pry him away from his current owner as the win-now pressure will not be there for the owners at the top of the league. I expected to see more of the same from Cabrera before the season started and was hopeful for a late-season call-up, I will carry those feeling over into 2021 as well.
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