2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 3 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 3 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re picking up Nate Eovaldi, giving up on Brett Lawrie, and keeping up hope for Carlos Martinez.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few lesser-known, lesser-considered, or lesser-owned players, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, vacation destination recommendations? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Nate Eovaldi | Miami Marlins | SP

By fWAR, Eovaldi has been the fifth-best pitcher in baseball so far this season. It’s not that surprising to see a young power pitcher in that spot, but Eovaldi isn’t your typical young flamethrower.

He racks up plenty of strikeouts, but does it without missing a ton of bats. His 7.4% swinging strike rate isn’t an aberration. His slider pretty good, but not outstanding. His changeup is more of a credible rumor than an actual major league pitch. His fastball is elite, but it actually doesn’t get a ton of whiffs.

I suppose you could say that Eovaldi pitches to contact, just contact that doesn’t end up in the field of play. At 97 miles per hour, on average, hitters just can’t square up his heater. The foul ball per swing rate on his fastball is nearly four standard deviations above league average, per Brooks Baseball.

His four-seamer gets on hitters so quickly and has so much life, Eovaldi can just pound the strike zone with it, knowing he’ll either end up with a strikeout or weak contact most of the time. It’s a great approach, and one he’s executed exceptionally well this season. His 71.8% zone percentage leads the major leagues; his 66.2% first strike percentage ranks 15th.

This all has to be taken with a bit of caution, as Eovaldi has struggled with his control in the past, but if he can continue to hammer the strike zone with his fastball, there’s no reason to think these excellent results won’t continue.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Bartolo Colon, Ubaldo Jimenez, Garrett Richards

[Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 2 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 2 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re scooping up James Paxton, holding on tight to Angel Pagan, and strongly considering new scenery for Billy Hamilton.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few lesser-known, lesser-considered, or lesser-owned players, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, beer/food pairing suggestions? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Aaron Hicks | Minnesota Twins | OF

Hicks has put a horrifically unlucky (and just generally horrific) 2013 season behind him and come charging out of the gate in 2014. He’s cut his strikeout rate nearly in half and increased his contact rate by more than 10% through his first six games. His BABIP still refuses to move toward the .300-plus levels he routinely posted in the minor leagues, but that will come with time.

I loved him going into last season and I still think the Twins overreacted to a poor BABIP when they sent him down after just over 300 plate appearances. Hicks has the ability to post a 15/15 season, and with Oswaldo Arcia out, he’s got a good grip on playing time, at least in the short term.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Denard Span, Avisail Garcia, A.J. Pollock

[Read more...]

Sunday Night Fantasy Baseball Hangout

2014 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

We’re back with a Week 1 edition of fantasy baseball waiver wire 3×3, in which we’re emptying our wallets for Sergio Santos, waiting patiently for Archie Bradley, and coldly snubbing Josh Johnson.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few lesser-known, lesser-considered, or lesser-owned players, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, ballpark food recommendations? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Sergio Santos | Toronto Blue Jays | RP

Casey Janssen has unsurprisingly landed on the DL. It’s not a particularly seriously injury, but with Santos taking over as the temporary closer, Janssen may not be long for the ninth inning.

Janssen has produced solid results over the past couple of seasons, but in terms of raw stuff, he can’t match Santos. Santos’ heater is overpowering and his Houdini slider is untouchable, with a raw whiff rate around 30%. That was enough for Santos to win closer gigs earlier in his career, but last season, he supplemented that arsenal with a suddenly fantastic changeup. He used it exclusively against lefties, who came up empty more that 35% of the time last season.

Santos is going to run with this job. Janssen is far from a lock to return on time and when he does, the Jays won’t have any incentive, aside from possibly trying to boost the trade value of their injury-prone soft-tossing reliever. You know, the same reliever that they somewhat surprisingly chose not to trade last season while he was in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career. I don’t see it.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Mark Melancon, J.J. Hoover, Edward Mujica

Brett Anderson | Colorado Rockies | SP

I formally broke up with Brett Anderson in this space last season, but damn it, it’s Opening Day. Hope springs eternal. Birds are chirping, snow is melting, and Anderson is healthy again.

He wasn’t great in the Spring, but his 5.5 K/BB ratio is just soooo Brett Andersony. He hasn’t pitched in Coors Field yet, but his career ground ball rate of 54.9% makes me feel like Coors won’t be too hard on him.

Anderson isn’t going to suddenly turn into a durable workhorse, but there’s a decent chance he gives you 100 innings of excellent production. That kind of chance doesn’t exist with most of the pitchers filling out the backs of fantasy rotations in 10 or 12-team leagues. When Anderson goes down, those guys will be there. There’s no reason to settle for mediocrity when there’s a chance for greatness, however unstable that chance may be.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Tim Hudson, Jorge De La Rosa, Tanner Roark

Chris Owings | Arizona Diamondbacks | SS

After a spirited Spring competition, Owings beat out Didi Gregorius to win the Arizona Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop job. He clearly did something to catch manager Kirk Gibson’s attention, but whatever it was, the fantasy community didn’t notice. Owings is owned in fewer than 15% of Yahoo! leagues.

I wrote about Owings earlier this offseason. He’s not a slam dunk prospect, but he’s got enough offensive skill to have some fantasy upside and enough glove to stick at shortstop for the long haul. He’s a great middle infield option in mixed leagues.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Erick Aybar, Alcides Escobar, Kolten Wong

3 TO CUT

Michael Bourn | Cleveland Indians | OF

Bourn will start the season on the DL, but I might have had him on this list even if he was healthy. I just can’t understand why a 31-year old player who derives almost all of his fantasy value from his speed, but has declined in both games played and stolen bases in three consecutive seasons, is still owned in 68% of Yahoo! leagues. Bourn has no power, doesn’t hit in a great offense, and is coming off a season in which he registered a .316 OBP, his worst since 2008. Not only that, he’s dogged by a strained hamstring, not exactly the sort of injury that disappears quickly.

So… why exactly am I supposed to want him when a guy like Rajai Davis is available in three out of every four leagues?

Bourn is cheap speed, but for some reason, he’s treated like something more valuable. I can’t quite advocate cutting him at this point, but I’d absolutely put him out there on the trade market. Trade him for a higher upside speed guy, or flip him to an owner in need of some steals, then back fill from the waiver wire.

I’d trade/drop him for: Ben Revere, Dexter Fowler, B.J. Upton

Josh Johnson | San Diego Padres | SP

I loved Johnson as a value pick heading into this season, but successfully owning a guy like Johnson requires a certain ruthless constitution. I’ll let De Niro take over from here:

“A guy told me one time, ‘Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.’”

In this case, “the heat” is Johnson’s forearm strain. Tightness or pain in the forearm is a well-known harbinger of elbow problems, and Johnson’s already had Tommy John surgery once. Would anyone be surprised if he ended up going under the knife again?

Unless your league has more than two DL slots, Johnson isn’t worth saving. I’m a huge fan of stashing injured pitchers early in the season, but there are plenty of other guys who provide more predictable upside.

I’d trade/drop him for: Jonathon Niese, Derek Holland, Jeremy Hellickson

Nick Markakis | Baltimore Orioles | OF

This really isn’t about Markakis specifically, it’s more about early-season roster construction in shallow leagues. Markakis is the quintessential steady, unexeciting, low ceiling, high floor player. He’s incredibly valuable in deep leagues or AL-only leagues, but if you’re playing in a 10-team mixed league, he’s nothing special. In that format, at this point in the season, the last few spots in your lineup should be reserved for players with the potential to greatly outperform their projections. Markakis isn’t that kind of player.

So, drop the Markakis types for a more volatile commodity. There’s probably a 50/50 shot you’ll be back at his door with your tail between your legs in a month or so, but don’t worry, he’ll always take you back.

I’d trade/drop him for: Angel Pagan, Colby Rasmus, Oswaldo Arcia

3 TO KEEP

Archie Bradley | Arizona Diamondbacks |SP

I hope you listened to my colleague Landon Jones and stashed Bradley before the season. If you didn’t, you’re in luck (but I’m still mad at you). Bradley is available in 17% of Yahoo! leagues and although he’s been sent down to Triple-A, guys with this kind of stuff don’t stay out of the majors for long. I won’t try to out-do Landon’s excellent profile, I’ll just say that in any league with a deep bench, Bradley is worth a spot.

I wouldn’t trade/drop him for: Drew Hutchison, Joe Kelly, Tanner Roark

Yasmani Grandal | San Diego Padres | C

Although he didn’t start the team’s opener last night, Grandal made the San Diego Padres’ Opening Day roster, assuaging any concerns that he wouldn’t be healthy enough to break camp with the team. His knee is still a bit of a concern, but he was catching full games by the end of Spring Training. Grandal didn’t show much pop with the bat during the Spring, but I’ll take my cues from the fact that he’s slugged nine homers in just over 300 big league plate appearances.

There are only a few elite catchers this season. The leftovers all taste about the same once the Poseys, Rosarios, Santanas, and McCanns are off the table; you’re really just fishing for upside. Grandal will take a bit of time to round into form, but he’s got huge upside. I love him as an investment in two-catcher leagues.

I wouldn’t trade/drop him for: Travis d’Arnaud, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Carlos Ruiz

Taijuan Walker | Seattle Mariners | SP

Forgive me for having flashbacks to Michael Pineda, who occupied this slot in last year’s debut edition of 3×3. I’m really just slotting Walker in here to remind myself not to freak about the Mariners bringing him along slowly from some slight shoulder inflammation. Unfortunately, young pitchers get hurt all the time, but for a guy with Walker’s upside, it’s worth a roster spot to take that risk.

All that said, Walker will probably be fine. If he happens to be available in your league, pick him up. If you’ve already got him, hold tight.

I wouldn’t trade/drop him for: Yovani Gallardo, Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Gerard’s Rankings, Third Base

Miguel Cabrera is far and away the best fantasy baseball option at third base, but there’s a surprising amount of meat in the middle of the 3B rankings. My ranks will give you the top three tiers of third sackers, along with strong plays in each 5×5 category.

Before you read on, read this.

Oh, and this:

A quick introduction on the layout:

First, we’ll go through a few tiers of top players at the position. These are guys who either deliver above average all around production, or have one transcendent skill. They are your building blocks. The “Total Score” is an average of all of the individual categories, weighted to the categories where that position is most likely to contribute positive value.

From there, we’ll divide up the remaining players based on specific category contributions. These guys are the puzzle pieces. Their contributions will be limited, so their specific value depends on the gaps that exist between the building blocks that you’ve already drafted.

One final thing: These are my rankings, but they’re guidance, not gospel. If you want to take Evan Longoria over Adrian Beltre or Martin Prado over Pablo Sandoval, I won’t fight you. Every drafter should draft to his own instincts; I’m just giving you some tools to sharpen your senses.

Tier 1

Since Miguel Cabrera was traded to the Tigers in 2008, there have been six player seasons in which a player met or beat the following stat line:

.320 Batting Average

25 Home Runs

100 Runs Scored

120 Runs Batted In

Miggy has half of those six seasons. He’s coming off two in a row.

The only others to accomplish the feat were Matt Kemp in 2011, Albert Pujols in 2009, and Manny Ramirez in 2008.

Mike Trout is great, and he’s still my top-ranked player, but if you want to take Miggy first overall, I really can’t argue. Trout provides better all-around production than any other player, but Miggy is the only offensive player with the ability to lead the league in three fantasy categories. Third base has some depth this year, but Cabrera remains head, shoulders, chest, waist, legs, and feet above all other options at the position.

Tier 2

I feel like we’ve all kind of gotten used to David Wright; he deserves for somebody to get a little bit excited about him. He’s not the 30/30 threat he was earlier in his career, but let’s not diminish the player he’s become. Wright has outstanding plate discipline and still possesses an excellent blend of power and speed; no other elite third basemen can match that multidimensional skill set. Woo! Excitement!

Evan Longoria is becoming a less multidimensional player, but that’s not necessarily a negative. He’s shedding versatility in service of transforming himself into one of the elite power hitters in baseball. Speed is no longer a part of his game, but it was never really a big part to begin with. Batting average is becoming less of a strength as well; his strikeout rate is on a three-year upward trend, matched by a three-year downward trend in contact rate on pitches in the zone. Both mean bad things for his batting average, but indicate a more aggressive approach. Longoria also showed opposite field power last season, something that really hadn’t existed earlier in his career. He still thrives on hammering anything up in the strike zone, but he’s added the ability to drive balls down and away, something he hadn’t done with regularity earlier in his career. Steamer, Oliver, and ZiPS all project him for fewer than 30 home runs; I think he’s got a shot to challenge 40.

Tier 3

I love me some Nolan Arenado. He’s got great skill and was unlucky enough last season that his 2014 value is artificially depressed. He puts the ball in play a ton, hits a ton of line drives, and plays in the best hitter’s park in baseball, but Arenado somehow managed only a .296 BABIP last season. That will surely change. A similar correction should be coming the power department too. Over the last five seasons, only two Rockies have logged more than 500 plate appearances with a slugging percentage worse than .405. One was Arenado last season. The other was Willy Taveras.

What have we learned here? Unless you’re Willy Taveras, it’s pretty much impossible to log a full year of at bats at Coors without hitting for some power.

I’m confident that Arenado is a better power hitter than than Taveras (I know, BOLD STATEMENT!); look for big improvements across the board this season.

If you end up with an elite, yet unconventional guy like Robinson Cano at second base or Tulowitzki at shortstop, you’ll have to find some speed somewhere. Outside of Wright, it’s quite scarce at the hot corner. There are quite a few players who may chip in five steals or so, but Brett Lawrie is really the only mid/late round option with a realistic shot at swiping 20 bags. He’s got some value even if he never taps into the power potential he showed during his rookie season.

I tried not to adjust the scores too much, but I really wanted to push Ryan Zimmerman’s HR Score up a bit more. He finished third among qualified third basemen in HR/FB last season and he’s increased his flyball distance by at least 14 feet in every season since 2011, peaking at just over 309 feet last season, just inches behind Miguel Cabrera and sixth overall in baseball. Much like Longoria, Zimmerman’s plate discipline numbers show a trend toward a more aggressive approach, which may also bode well for his power output in 2014.

If You Need Home Runs…

For some reason, third base seems to be a beacon for unrefined hitters with mammoth raw power. When Lonnie Chisenhall is the best batting average option in the group, you know it’s a free-swinging bunch.

Pedro Alvarez has elite power, but let’s not ignore the poor man’s Pedro, Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks actually hits more fly balls than Alvarez, but still maintained a very strong 17.2% HR/FB rate last season. Like Alvarez, he won’t help your batting average, but his elevated batted ball profile and powerful right-handed swing makes him perfectly suited to produce in Fenway Park.

For deeper leagues with daily lineup moves, Juan Francisco is a great target. His plate appearances will be limited, as the Brewers will likely platoon him, but he is a terror against right-handed pitching. Francisco was one of only four third basemen to post an ISO better than .200 against righties last season, the other three were Alvarez, Cabrera, and Longoria.

If You Need Runs…

There are plenty of third basemen who score runs, but they’re all middle-of-the-order thumpers who are good enough all-around players to make it into the top tiers at the position. There just aren’t many table setter types playing third.

Kinda makes you long for the days of Chone Figgins, eh?

Nah, you’re right. Me neither. Forget I said anything.

If You Need RBI…

Kyle Seager is an intriguing guy here; his R/RBI impact is going to really depend on where he ends up hitting in the order. If the M’s decide to hit him behind guys like Robinson Cano and Corey Hart, he’ll have boatloads of RBI chances. If he hits in the two-hole, I’d put him up above Chase Headley as a really solid run-scoring option.

Nick Castellanos is unproven as a big leaguer, but I can’t recall any rookie who began his career in a better spot for run production. The four hitters projected to hit ahead of Castellanos (Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Austin Jackson, and Alex Avila) all have career OBPs better than .340. With that kind of support, Castellanos can drive in runs just by putting the ball in play which, coincidentally, is his best skill as a hitter.

If You Need Batting Average…

3B AVG

There are some solid batting average options here, but a few of these guys, notably Chris Johnson, and David Freese, are pretty one-dimensional. They can be useful pieces, but if you’re going to go with one of them, keep in mind that you’ll need to make up some power somewhere else, since most of your competition will be getting good power production from their third base slot and you… well, you won’t.

If You Need Stolen Bases…

He doesn’t show up on this list, but Castellanos might swipe a bag or two. This could just be my Tigers homerism seeping in, but I really believe that Brad Ausmus is going to push everybody on his team to be aggressive on the bases. Castellanos doesn’t have great speed, but he hits in a part of the order where Ausmus is likely to push the envelope to create some offense.

Thanks, But No Thanks

There are circumstances under which you might draft these guys, but in any shallowish mixed league, they shouldn’t be anywhere near your roster. These guys are below average in just about every statistical category; if you have to draft one, just look for the player who’ll hurt you least.

So, What Do You Think?

This is a different way to do rankings. It’s fun and interesting for me, but my ultimate goal is to give you all something that’ll help you have a more successful draft day.

If you want to take a closer look, I dropped all of the ranks into a Google Doc here.

You can find the write-ups on other positions here:

First Base

Second Base

Shortstop

Do you like the format? Do you agree or disagree with the rankings? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

45 Prospects in 45 Days: Boston’s Allen Webster

Profile

Allen Webster can bring the heat. In his short major league stint with the Red Sox last season, he averaged 94.4 miles per hour on his fastball, a velocity that would have ranked seventh among starting pitchers, if he’d had enough innings to qualify. His control is bad, verging on terrible, but that fastball will play on any level. Based on last year’s big league sample, Webster features faster gas than flamethrowers like Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and David Price.

Like Scherzer, Webster complements his heater with an excellent changeup. He uses it effectively against both lefties and righties, generating whiffs nearly a quarter of the time and generating ground balls at a rate solidly above league average.

You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned Webster’s breaking ball yet. Unfortunately for him, it’s because there’s not really a breaking ball worth mentioning. He throws an occasional slider, almost exclusively to right handed hitters. It’s ok, but it’s really just a show-me pitch.

Even without a third pitch, the fastball/change combination was actually very effective against big league righties last season. Lefties, on the other hand, weren’t so impressed. They tuned up Webster’s heater for a .783 ISO and five home runs in 23 at bats. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Gerard’s Rankings, Shortstop

Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez lead the list of top ranked shortstops for your fantasy baseball draft. My rankings will give you the top four tiers of shortstops, along with strong plays in each 5×5 category.

Before you read on, read this.

Oh, and this:

DS Fix Kit Banner

A quick introduction on the layout:

First, we’ll go through a few tiers of top players at the position. These are guys who either deliver above average all around production, or have one transcendent skill. They are your building blocks. The “Total Score” is an average of all of the individual categories, weighted to the categories where that position is most likely to contribute positive value.

From there, we’ll divide up the remaining players based on specific category contributions. These guys are the puzzle pieces. Their contributions will be limited, so their specific value depends on the gaps that exist between the building blocks that you’ve already drafted.

One final thing: These are my rankings, but they’re guidance, not gospel. I feel pretty strongly about the dividers between the tiers, but once you get into a tier, if you want to take Elvis Andrus over Jean Segura, or you’re not buying in on Brad Miller, I’m cool with it. Every drafter should draft to his own instincts; I’m just giving you some tools to sharpen your senses.

Tier 1

Troy Tulowitzki is the clear top option at shortstop. I’d expect people to be surprised by the size of the gap is between Tulo and the second tier, but no other shortstop brings such a potent combination of batting average, power, and run production.

Since 2007, when Tulowitzki became a full-time starter, there have been five individual shortstop seasons in which a player hit 25 home runs while maintaining a batting average better than .300. Three of those seasons belong to Tulo (2010, 2011, and 2013). Over that same time span, he’s also the only shortstop to post multiple seasons in which he both scored and drove in 90 runs. He doesn’t offer true five-category production (Tulo hasn’t stolen double-digit bases in a season since 2010), but he’s arguably the best option at his position for every other individual category.

The injuries are certainly a concern, but Tulo’s injury risk relative to his contemporaries at shortstop is greatly overstated. Sure, he gets banged up a bit more often than the average player, but he usually ends up playing enough games to be valuable. Since becoming the full-time starter in 2007, he’s played at least 100 games in every season but one. It’s a bit of an arbitrary distinction and not a particularly impressive one at that, but neither Hanley Ramirez nor Jose Reyes can match it, and there’s no reliably healthy option at shortstop with anything close to Tulo’s track record of production.

[Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Gerard’s Rankings, Second Basemen

Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, and Dustin Pedroia lead the list of top ranked second basemen for your fantasy baseball draft. My rankings will give you the top three tiers of second basemen, along with strong plays in each 5×5 category.

Before you read on, read this.

Oh, and this:

A quick introduction on the layout:

First, we’ll go through a few tiers of top players at the position. These are guys who either deliver above average all around production, or have one transcendent skill. They are your building blocks. The “Total Score” is an average of all of the individual categories, weighted to the categories where second basemen are most likely to contribute positive value.

From there, we’ll divide up the remaining players based on specific category contributions. These guys are the puzzle pieces. Their contributions will be limited, so their specific value depends on the gaps that exist between the building blocks that you’ve already drafted.

One final thing: These are my rankings, but they’re guidance, not gospel. I feel pretty strongly about the dividers between the tiers, but once you get into a tier, if you want to take Dustin Pedroia over Ian Kinsler, or Chase Utley over Jose Altuve, I’m cool with it. Every drafter should draft to his own instincts; I’m just giving you some tools to sharpen your senses.

Tier 1

I tend never to say never about this sort of thing, but I very much doubt that I’ll own Robinson Cano in any league this year. He’s been a model of consistency… at least until this offseason. He’s spent his entire career playing in the same organization, playing for teams that made the playoffs almost every season, playing in a park that might as well have been custom-built for his talents, and playing alongside legends who soaked up every ounce of New York’s considerable spotlight.

Then Seattle threw $240 million at him.

Suddenly, he’s the new guy. Suddenly, he’s the savior of a team trying to shake off a decade-long playoff drought. Suddenly, he’s center of attention. Suddenly, he’s the guy everybody looks to.

He remains the best fantasy option at his position, but there’s too much instability to warrant the price it’ll take to get him.

I’d much rather reach a bit for Kinsler. He’s slimmed down and seems committed to deliver on Detroit manager Brad Ausmus’ directive for more aggressive baserunning. Sure, Comerica Park is going to take a bite out of his power numbers, but those were on the decline anyway. Kinsler will more than make up that deficit in value by increasing his steals and boosting his runs scored totals; he’s very likely to hit leadoff in the Tigers’ revitalized, but still devastating, lineup.

[Read more...]

45 Prospects In 45 Days: Arizona’s Chris Owings

owings land

Source: Rob Tringali/Getty Images North America

Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.

For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.

Profile

Chris Owings’ offensive tools are very good, but they don’t really jump off the page. What makes him a great prospect is that he features those tools alongside the ability to play shortstop. He has typical size for his position at 5’10”, 180 with excellent hands, feet, and arm strength as a defender.

He has above average skill in both power and speed, but neither tool qualifies as elite. He has plus power for his position, but his numbers have been a bit inflated by hitting in favorable environments. He has some speed, but he’s far from an elite base stealer.

His hit tool is perhaps his best quality, but its positive impact is mitigated by a staunch unwillingness to take walks. Owings has hit better than .300 at three of the seven stops along his minor league journey; he’s registered a walk rate better than 5% exactly once. Last season, he drew just 22 unintentional walks in 546 plate appearances at Triple-A. It’s worth noting that he hit for a .330 batting average in those same 546 plate appearances, but whether he can maintain that same production against big league pitching remains a question. He was called up last season, but only made  61 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks.

Owings profiles as a solid fantasy middle infielder; his long term upside is something in the neighborhood of a rich man’s Asdrubal Cabrera. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Gerard’s Rankings, First Basemen

photo credit: MudflapDC via photopin cc

photo credit: MudflapDC via photopin cc

Paul Goldschmidt tops the list of top ranked first basemen for your fantasy baseball draft. My rankings will give you the top four tiers of first sackers, along with strong plays in each 5×5 category.

Before you read on, read this.

Oh, and this:

A quick introduction on the layout of these rankings:

First, we’ll go through a few tiers of top players at the position. These are guys who either deliver above average all around production, or have one transcendent skill. These are your building blocks.

From there, we’ll divide up the remaining players based on specific category contributions. These guys are the puzzle pieces. Their contributions will be limited, so their specific value depends on the gaps that exist between the building blocks that you’ve already drafted.

One final thing: These are my rankings, but they’re guidance, not gospel. I feel pretty strongly about the dividers between the tiers, but once you get into a tier, if you want to take Freddie Freeman over Prince Fielder, or Eric Hosmer over Anthony Rizzo, I’m cool with it. Every drafter should draft to his own instincts; I’m just giving you some tools to sharpen your senses.

Tier 1

1B T1

I’ve always been a huge fan of Goldschmidt; I’m happy to invite the rest of the world to join me in reveling in his awesomeness. Last season, he met and beat every measure of elite first base production, cranking more than 35 home runs, driving in more than 120 runs, scoring more than 100 runs, and hitting .300. Oh, and he chipped in 15 stolen bases, a mark that not only led all first basemen, but would have tied him for fifth among second basemen.

Goldschmidt’s 2013 numbers are eye-popping and there’s no reason at all to think 2014 will be any different. His BABIP last year was right in line with career norms, his plate discipline improved (as it has in each of his big league seasons), and his power continues to grow.

Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera are still head-and-shoulders above every other player in fantasy, but Goldschmidt’s position head-and-shoulders above every other first baseman makes him the clear #3 pick for me.

[Read more...]