Rankings Counterpoint: Matt Shoemaker is not a Cobbler

As you know by now, the industrious team of writers here at The Dynasty Guru put together a complete set of rankings for players at every position. If you haven’t seen them yet you should definitely check them out HERE! These rankings were built especially for use in dynasty leagues. Of course player values in dynasty leagues are dramatically different than in re-draft leagues but all the lists on other fantasy baseball sites were made for yearly leagues. We created our dynasty rankings as consensus lists compiling the opinions of all the TDG writers into the ultimate ranking system for dynasty leagues anywhere on the Net.

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Targeting Dan Haren, the Once and Future Ace

Dan Haren was the stalwart leader of many a championship fantasy pitching rotation for almost a decade. He has won 130 major league games and made three All Star teams and has even been a Cy Young contender in both leagues. He began his career back in the days of high-octane offenses during the steroid era and has thrown 200+ innings 8 times, providing tons of production for his fantasy owners. Haren’s career 4.09 K:BB and 1.87 BB/9 ratios are the best of all active pitchers, well ahead of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Adam Wainwright, King Felix, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw in the most important peripheral stats for pitchers. In fact, Haren ranks near the top in almost all of the career statistical categorys among active pitchers. That is a very impressive feat!

Given Haren’s remarkable track record of success, why is it that he was available for free in so many fantasy leagues last summer? He was actually unowned in 50-75% of Yahoo, CBS and ESPN leagues during June through July of last year. Why would a proven ace pitcher who had been so good for so long suddenly get dropped by so many fantasy owners? Well, after a stellar year in 2011 (16-10, 192 Ks, 3.17 ERA, 1.02 WHIP!) in which he was a Cy Young contender, Haren had a shaky and somewhat disappointing season in 2012. It was not bad enough to dump him, but then came a shockingly rude stretch of poor pitching in 2013. Most of his owners gave up on him way too quickly and allowed some patient, observant bystanders to snap him up with a few well-timed mouse clicks. Let’s take a closer look… Continue reading

Rankings Counterpoint: Fretting Freddie Freeman

Underestimate Freddie Freeman at your own peril.

I have seen too many people pass over Freddie Freeman in fantasy baseball drafts. The most common complaint about Freeman is that he supposedly doesn’t hit enough home runs, especially for a first baseman. Well OK that is true to some extent. But Freeman did hit 23 home runs in each of the last two seasons. His 23 home runs were good for 11th among first basemen last year, which isn’t great but isn’t bad either. But consider that only 2 first basemen had more RBIs than Freeman (109 RBIs), and only 4 first basemen scored more Runs than Freeman (89 Runs).  Then factor in that Freeman had the highest batting average ( .319 AVG) among all first basemen. Now Freddie Freeman is looking pretty freaking good.

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Rankings Counterpoint: Targeting Marco Estrada as a Breakout Candidate

As you know by now, the illustrious team of writers here at The Dynasty Guru put together a complete set of rankings for players at every position. If you haven’t seen them yet you should definitely check them out HERE! These rankings were built especially for use in dynasty leagues. Of course player values in dynasty leagues are dramatically different than in re-draft leagues but all the lists on other fantasy baseball sites were made for yearly leagues. We created our dynasty rankings as consensus lists compiling the opinions of all the TDG writers into the ultimate ranking system for dynasty leagues anywhere on the Net.

Since the lists were created on a consensus basis, sometimes each of us on the panel may disagree with the collective mind. I strongly believe our rankings are the best to be found anywhere, but that doesn’t mean I agree with the ranking of every single player. This article is the second of a series where I highlight a few examples of starting pitchers who I believe are more valuable than their rank. The first article was about Danny Salazar, read it HERE.

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Rankings Counterpoint: Buy Low On Sonny Gray While You Still Can!

On Monday, fellow colleague Nick Doran introduced a “Rankings Counterpoint” series at TDG, imploring you to sell high on the Rays’ Matt Moore. In piggyback fashion, I’m here to tell you to do the opposite with the Athletics’ Sonny Gray, whom the TDG staff collectively ranked 35th among starting pitchers. Gray, 24, isn’t a typical buy low. You might even think he’s a buy high and stopped reading past the title of this post. But at No. 35 on our list, I think there’s room for value.

Selected 18th overall in the 2011 draft, Gray entered the 2013 season as Oakland’s No. 4 prospect, according to Baseball Prospectus, behind shortstop Addison Russell, outfielder Michael Choice and right-handed pitcher Dan Straily. Gray made 20 starts in Triple-A Sacramento, dominating the hitter-friendly PCL with 8.97 strikeouts per nine innings and holding opposing batters to a .257 BA. This came after striking out only 5.90 batters per nine innings across 26 Double-A starts in 2012. The right-hander also cut down his walk rate, from 9.1 percent to 7.9 percent, and his fly ball-to-ground ball rate improved dramatically after graduating to the highest minor league level.

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Rankings Counterpoint: Sell High on Matt Moore While You Still Can!

Right now you’re thinking “Matt Moore had an elite fantasy season in 2013. He made the All Star team and put up a fantastic 17-4 record with a stellar 3.29 ERA and had 143 strikeouts in 150 innings. That’s awesome! Why the Heck should I sell high on him?” Read on to find out…

The Good…

When Matt Moore was in the minor leagues he was talked about in the same breath as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as a once in a generation uber-prospect. In fact Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, MLB.com and John Sickels all ranked Matt Moore ahead of Mike Trout on their Top 100 Prospects Lists in 2012! It was totally justified given Moore’s video game-like strikeout totals and ERAs in the minors. His 2nd major league start came when he pitched 7 shutout innings against the Rangers in the playoffs. Talk about bursting onto the scene in style!

He was a 22 year old rookie in 2012 and put up an encouraging 3.81 ERA, then he went all gangbusters in 2013 with that aforementioned 17-4 record and lights out 3.29 ERA. What’s not to like about that? Won’t he continue to get even more elite since he is still so young?

The Bad…

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Rankings Counterpoint: Targeting Danny Salazar

Danny Salazar came out of nowhere and made a huge splash in the Cleveland Indians’ starting rotation in the second half of 2013. His success was a true skills-based breakout, not merely a hot streak or a luck-fueled mirage. In this article I will show you why you should target him aggressively via trade or in your draft.

Prior to 2013 Salazar was a guy nobody had ever heard of. He wasn’t even ranked highly on Indians top prospect lists. He hadn’t done anything to distinguish himself in the minor leagues and had only recently recovered from Tommy John surgery on his elbow.

Salazar is not a big man at 6’0” tall and 190 pounds, but boy can he throw hard. In fact, his average fastball velocity of 95.9 mph was the 2nd-fastest in the major leagues last year among starting pitchers (behind only Nate Eovaldi’s 96.1 mph). He has thrown 100 mph Blazing Fastballs in game action, which is a rare feat for starting pitchers. Salazar’s fastball had the highest whiff rate in the major leagues among starters, coming in ahead of Matt Harvey and Yu Darvish. In addition to the fastball he employs a sinker, slider and wicked splitchange that combine for an effective 4-pitch starter’s repertoire that should ensure he remains a starting pitcher despite his smallish stature.

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