Nationals Refuse To Turn(er) The Page

Constructing a dynasty roster requires foresight. It requires patience, calculation and perseverance. It requires the ability to plan for the future and look for the stars of tomorrow, before they become the “can’t miss” prospects of the present. Every now and then the heavens part, the stars align, and the dynasty prospect you’ve been hanging on to finally gets a clear path to a starting role in the big leagues. Then, out of nowhere, the front office will sign the likes of Daniel Murphy and Stephen Drew while installing Danny Espinosa as the teams starting shortstop. Such is the story of Trea Turner, the 22-year-old blue chip prospect for the Washington Nationals.

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Digging for Diamonds: Finding Value in Last Year’s Draft Class, Part Four

As we discussed in the introduction post to this series, more and more dynasty leagues are rostering upwards of 150-200 minor leaguers these days, and some ridiculously deep leagues (like a few that I’m involved with) roster double or triple that amount. Often times performances from the previous year’s draft class go largely unnoticed before the end of the minor league season, which we’re rapidly approaching. These performances are highlighted when various prospect lists come out and some prospects that should be owned in deeper leagues end up in the same player pool as the year’s most recent draftees during offseason dynasty drafts.

If you’re able to beat your competitors to the punch and pick up these types of prospects before the end of the season, you’re essentially getting free draft picks, which is always fun for the whole family.

Let’s take a look at a few prospects from the 2014 draft class that have seen their value rise this season and might not be owned in your league:

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Prospects Poppin’: Who Is Victor Robles?

Trust and value your sources. Doing so is obviously of great importance when delving into the world of prospects, particularly since it’s impossible to keep track of the roughly 9,712 different minor league players currently getting a paycheck to play baseball. Whether it’s John Sickels of Minor League Ball, Keith Law of ESPN Insider, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, Ben Badler or JJ Cooper or any other the other fine folks at Baseball America, the great prospect team over at Baseball Prospectus — you get the idea — when a voice you trust tells you to pay attention to prospect you’ve never heard of, you’re best served as a dynasty league owner to take notice. Hopefully we have a few folks here at The Dynasty Guru whose opinions that you trust and value, and one person whose opinion I value greatly is Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus. When Jeff left this little nugget in his Spring Training notebook on March 26th, my ears perked up and I filed it away for later:

“Robles has yet to appear stateside in regular season action, so excitement should be quelled for the moment, but keep it in the queue. This is a name you’re going to hear a lot about soon.”
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Should You Pick Up These Struggling Star Hitters?: Werth, LaRoche, Napoli, Rollins and Castellanos

Let’s take a look at some hitters who were owned in every league at the beginning of the season but have since been dropped in many leagues. There have been a surprising number of batters who have been big producers in the past and were expected to be good again this year but simply fell flat on their faces. Some of them got hurt and were dropped by impatient owners. Others were just simply playing like crap and deserved to be dropped.

Sometimes fantasy owners get aggravated and drop a player they should have kept. Sometimes owners were forced to drop a player because they needed the roster spot for another player. That means there are some big names on the waiver wire in a lot of leagues right now. Some of them can help your team win this year, others can help you in the future.

Jayson Werth, Nationals — finished 2014 ranked #49 overall, currently ranked #1252 in 5×5 leagues.

Werth has been both bad and hurt. He was awful in April and May, hitting to a woeful .208/.294/.287 slash line in 119 plate appearances. Then to make matters worse Continue reading

Scouring Midseason Prospect Rankings

We’ve reached the middle of July, which is when most prospect purveyors update their respective lists to reflect the multitude of changes that have occurred since the beginning of the season. As we’ve touched on before, it is extremely important to stay abreast of the constant changes in the valuation of prospects in order to run a profitable dynasty league franchise. Perceived value in the prospect world is very important, especially in trade talks where it can sometimes be the final piece of information that closes a deal, particularly if your trading partner lacks the knowledge of prospects (and life in general) that you, The Dynasty Guru reader has in spades.

We’ll be diving into the midseason rankings of:

John Sickelsthe proprietor of the outstanding SB Nation site Minor League Ball (who ranks 75 prospects)
Baseball America (who ranks 50 prospects)
Keith Law of Insider (who ranks 50 prospects)

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Perusing Futures Game Pitchers

Let’s get our jump to conclusions mat out and make some rash judgments based upon hitters getting one or two at-bats playing in their first game in front of a more than a few thousand fans — or even better — let’s make some sweeping generalizations regarding starting pitchers who are overthrowing because they are only going to pitch one inning in an exhibition game. Or, let’s not ever do that. If you’re in need of that type of hard-hitting analysis, you can look at plenty of people’s Twitter feed from Sunday. As the Mike Pelfrey of Baseball Prospectus’ award-winning TINO podcast says, casting aspersions based upon one game makes about as much sense as following MLB Trade Rumors on Instagram.

To be sure, there is certainly knowledge to be gained from seeing top prospects play against each other on a major league field, but adjusting prospects ahead of one another based upon one game (which I saw plenty of going on while monitoring the game on Twitter) falls somewhere between dangerous and ludicrous. Instead, let’s take a look at a trio of prospects who appeared in Sunday’s Futures Game that are largely unowned in dynasty leagues and could see their value rise over the ‘second half’ of the season:
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The Verdict on 4 Struggling Hitting Stars: Cano, Desmond, Kemp and CarGo

There are several superstar hitters whose performances this year pale in comparison to our expectations. These players were expected to be elite contributors but so far have been huge disappointments to their fantasy owners. They cost you big time to acquire but they are killing  your team in the stat columns. Should you sell high or buy low? It is time to find out if they are going to bounce back or fade away.

Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners — 37 Runs, 6 Home Runs, 30 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases and .254 AVG

Cano came into the season ranked #11 on our Top 500 Overall Dynasty League Rankings. Right now at the halfway point of the season he has earned the #308 spot on 5×5 rankings for the year. That is quite a fall, and unlike with guys like Carlos Gomez, Yasiel Puig, Freddie Freeman, Adrian Beltre or Jacoby Ellsbury we cannot blame it on injuries. Cano has simply not played very well. His strikeout rate has nearly doubled from last year while his walk rate has halved. We all expected to see Cano’s home run rate fall off when he moved to Seattle and we were right, but he still had an excellent season last year for the Mariners. His 136 wRC+ was even better than his 125 career average, although it was slightly down from his last few years in New York. This year his wRC+ has dropped 50 points to 86. That’s right, the great Robinson Cano has hit 14% worse than an average major league hitter this year. This is not the first time this has happened though. The only other time Cano has slumped lower than 100 on his wRC+ was 2008 when he sat at 86 just like this year. The following year he bounced back and went on to string together seven elite seasons for the Yankees. Continue reading

Grading the Unexpected Aces: Wacha, Liriano, Burnett, Martinez and Odorizzi

Let’s take a look at another batch of pitchers having great years despite low pre-season rankings. All of the pitchers below are currently ranked in the top 25 starting pitchers in baseball in 5×5 leagues. Are they flukes or can we expect them to continue pitching at an elite level?

Michael Wacha, Cardinals — 9-3 Record, 2.85 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 69 Strikeouts in 88.1 innings.

Wacha was not a low-ranked pitcher this offseason. In most rankings he sat in the 35-50 range among starting pitchers. But so far this season he has been a top-15 pitcher in 5×5 leagues. His 7.03 K/9 is a league average strikeout rate. His 2.04 BB/9 walk rate is better than average. Wacha has been a little bit lucky with the .262 BABIP that should rise up to the .295 range. The Cardinals are not a very good defensive team that can maintain his BABIP far below league average. Wacha’s home run rate is low again this year despite having a neutral ground ball profile. We should expect him to allow a few more homers as the season rolls along. His 3.61 xFIP and 3.76 SIERA point toward a bump in his 2.85 ERA, but I think we should continue to see Wacha perform very similarly to what he has done throughout his career. The Cardinals are a strong team who can provide Wacha with plenty of support from the offense and the bullpen, and they play in a strong pitcher’s park. Expect a slight drop in the winning percentage and a slight rise in the ERA and WHIP. We are looking at an above average but not elite pitcher in a great situation to succeed. Verdict: The Real Deal. Continue to roll with him. Trade for him if the price is reasonable. Continue reading

Grading the Unexpected Aces: Archer, Keuchel, Hammel, Miller and Pineda

We are getting close to the halfway point of the baseball season and there are several pitchers having great years despite low pre-season rankings. All of the pitchers below are currently ranked in the top 25 starting pitchers in baseball in 5×5 leagues. Are they flukes or can we expect them to continue pitching at an elite level?

Chris Archer, Rays — 7-4 Record, 1.84 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 108 Strikeouts in 83 innings.

What is not to like about Chris Archer? He was never expected to be this good, but his performance is totally real. He has an ultra-elite 11.71 K/9 strikeout rate, a very good 2.17 BB/9 walk rate, a top 10 fastball velocity and a devastating slider.  He has been a bit fortunate with Continue reading

Buy, Sell or Hold? Hot Royals Hitters Edition

Let’s get right to it. We are going to examine some hitters who have performed much better than expected so far this year.

Mike Moustakas, Royals — .322 AVG, 5 HRs, 28 Runs, 16 RBI, 1 Steal

A month ago I talked about Moustakas HERE.  I told you to avoid him like the plague despite his hot start. He has not been as bad as I thought he would be, but he has not been as good in May as he was in April. In April he was awesome, putting up a .356/.420/.522 slash line for a .942 OPS. In May he has fallen off to a .286/.330/.440 slash for a .770 OPS. That is still pretty good, but remember this is a guy with a career .686 OPS, and that includes his excellent 2015 stats. Moustakas’ BABIP this year is .349, which is 81 points higher than his career BABIP. That is a very strong sign that he has been quite lucky, especially when you consider his batted ball profile is less impressive than it usually is. The narrative we hear on TV is that he has improved his approach by hitting the ball to the opposite field to beat the shift. That is true because his Oppo% is 35% this year compared to his career 23%. However his Soft, Medium and Hard hit percentages are exactly the same as his career. In fact he hit the ball much harder last year than he is this year. That is a strong sign that his improved BABIP is unsupported by anything in his batted ball profile that would make you think his luck is going to continue. Verdict: Sell. Cash him in while you can still get something for a proven below average hitter.
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