Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Middle Infield

Jose Altuve finished the year atop the ESPN Player Rater & now being taken at pick 11 on average. Is that too steep?
Jose Altuve finished the year atop the ESPN Player Rater

In the midst of thinking that middle infield would be a tough position to forecast in 2014, three middle infielders made the top 20 on ESPN’s Player Rater. However, it did not include top-twelve selections Robinson Cano, Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez. This seems to be carrying over to early ADP’s as people are reacting to the strong performances by Jose Altuve and Anthony Rendon who finished 1st and 17th respectively last season. Early on, each player is being taken in the top 15 in NFBC money drafts. The third player to finish in this company was Dee Gordon, who is not enjoying the early love as his other brethren due to questions of regression. But is Gordon really that much more of a question mark than the other two? That remains to be seen. At first glance, second base seems much deeper than in the past.

Troy Tulowitzki is still the top drafted SS but his home/road splits in 2014 bear watching. Home SLG - .748, Road - .447 along with averaging just over 100 Games the past five seasons.
Tulo is still the top drafted SS but his home/road splits from 2014 bear watching

As for shortstop, rankings always begin with Troy Tulowitzki. This is not a knock on Tulo (or maybe it is), but he has averaged just 105.8 games played over the last five seasons. If you select him with eyes wide open, that is fine, but even with less than 100 games in 2014, Tulowitzki still finished 8th on the Player Rater at his position. It seems like Hanley Ramirez falls under the same category, but he will be learning a new position in Boston. HanRam has averaged 121 games over the last five years, but should see a bump in production playing in Boston if he can handle playing the outfield. Add in Jose Reyes and you have an instance in which three of the top four ranked shortstops are a risk for injury. While everyone is an injury risk, the checkered health of this talented trio makes it difficult to draft them since it comes at a cost that is rarely returned. Dee Gordon finished 2014 as the top fantasy shortstop but will not retain eligibility this year. Let’s transition to the average draft positions at second base for 2015 in NFBC money drafts:

2B ADP's

I was a proponent of Jose Altuve last year and enjoyed the returns of owning him in my home AL-only league. While I think he can repeat some of his numbers, it stands to reason that he will regress a little in 2015. Batting average is the hardest statistic to predict so when it is one of the main reasons driving a player’s value, that makes taking him in the first round risky. With the dearth of power in the league, I find it hard to justify taking a base-stealing second baseman in the top 10. I also loved Anthony Rendon as my editor will be happy to tell you (Editor’s note: It’s true, he did). But with Rendon being taken at pick number 14 that again neutralizes his value. I think he is very talented and capable of repeating his numbers in 2015 but his home run tracker lists 12 of his 21 home runs last year as “just enough”. What if half of those do not go over the wall this year? That drops him home runs from 21 to 15 which is worth making note of. Meanwhile, Seattle signed Nelson Cruz for Robinson Cano. This is very important since Cano has had little protection since moving to the Mariners. I think he is due for a big bounce back season and with his ADP slipping into the twenties, now is the time to pounce. Two other players I like this year are Jason Kipnis and Kolten Wong at their present draft spots. Kipnis’ power numbers are limited by an inability to hit fly balls, but all he needs is health to rebound. Wong had a strong finish to 2014 and looks to build upon that this year. Like the blind profile with projections, here are some interesting ones courtesy of Steamer:

Player A: 72 R, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 20 SB, .254/.331/.387
Player B: 56 R, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 19 SB, .245/.295/.392

It is easy to see that player B has a noticeable drop in runs scored and just 9 points in batting average, but he is going to be an interesting player to watch develop. While I prefer player A in drafts, if he is taken ahead of where I want him, player B is an intriguing fallback option. Here is one more comparison:

Player C: 59 R, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 9 SB, .279/.316/.398
Player D: 71 R, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 8 SB, .262/.349/.400
Player E: 66 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, .241/.319/.395

While two of the players above are now teammates, it will be interesting to see how their at bats work out. The third player in the comparison really came on in 2014 and looks to build upon that this year in anonymity since he is not going in the top 200 thus far. Here are the their identities:

Player A: Jason Kipnis
Player B: Arismendy Alcantara
Player C: Scooter Gennett
Player D: Ben Zobrist
Player E: Marcus Semien

Projections do not tell the whole story but when the names are taken out of the process, it allows us to look at them objectively. Other players of note are Chase Utley, Jedd Gyorko, Nick Franklin and Rougned Odor. Second base is not a fantasy gold mine, but it is definitely as deep as it has been in recent memory. Here are the steamer projections of the players taken in the top 200:

2B Steamer Projection Chart

Due to the ADP’s in clear tiers, drafting shortstop will depend on an owner’s preference. Those who want a premium player at a volatile position will be taking Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez or Ian Desmond in the top 30. After that though it is sort of spread out. Only two shortstops are being taken between picks 50-100 but then five go off the board between picks 105 – 138. Almost a whole round lapses then four more shortstops are being selected between picks 150-180 in the NFBC top 200. Here are the players with their ADP’s included:

SS NFBC ADP's

As much as shortstop will be in transition, especially with the move of Hanley Ramirez to the outfield in Boston, there is hope. Continuing the blind profile exercise, here are some interesting ones I found using the Steamer projections:

Player A: 63 R, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 8 SB, .274/.320/.409
Player B: 66 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 8 SB, .251/.316/.397
Player C: 63 R, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 9 SB, .252/.314/.395

Only one of the above players is being taken inside of the NFBC’s top 200 in money drafts. Showing that while there is depth at shortstop, it seems as though there are many at the same statistical level. Continuing on that theme, here are three more in the same exact circumstance:

Player D: 50 R, 14 HR, 57 RBI, 3 SB, .255/.296/.401
Player E: 64 R, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 2 SB, .253/.298/.392
Player F: 59 R, 15 HR, 64 RBI, 3 SB, .256/.323/.402

There aren’t many discernible differences in either group. Player A does have a big advantage in batting average which enhances his value but that is also the one statistic with the largest variance. In the second group any one of the three players listed could out-produce the other with a bump in one category. Curious?

Player A: Starlin Castro
Player B: Asdrubel Cabrera
Player C: Brad Miller
Player D: Wilmer Flores
Player E: J.J. Hardy
Player F: Jhonny Peralta

Only Starlin Castro and Jhonny Peralta are being drafted inside the top 200 but I think those picks are better spent on pitchers or players with more upside than guys like Peralta. There are plenty of similar options available. Before I forget, here are the Steamer projections for the shortstops inside the top 200:

SS Steamer Projection Chart

Intriguing undrafted shortstops include Erick Aybar, Chris Owings and Alcides Escobar. I can see a bounce back by Jean Segura who endured a very tough season not only in his adjustments, but personally as well. Danny Santana is due to regress but how much? If he can steal 20 bases and score 80 runs then he still has value. Yes his average will drop to the .270 range but it depends on need. Javier Baez will be a very tough player to own since he will be streaky and may not break out until the second half. I think he is talented but to reach for him at pick 106 would be unwise. There are options if you do your research, just do not wait too long or you will find yourself with Jed Lowrie.

Middle infield will have depth and some value to share this year. I think you can be successful without reaching or paying for career years. It will take patience but early knowledge of how players are being valued helps determine where to get them. Tomorrow I will take a look at the outfield.

If you think there is variance in the middle infield, just wait.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.go.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/ONnSIi (Altuve), http://goo.gl/6cSfy1 (Tulowitzki)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

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Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank SS

Pirates are surging and Mercer hits LHP to the tune of 319/359/458 and would like your attention
The Pirates are surging and Mercer hits LHP to the tune of .319/.359/.458

Shortstop is one of the toughest positions to fill not only in fantasy baseball, but in daily as well. With the top rated fantasy player at the position who cannot stay on the field, it makes the selection process much tougher. When Troy Tulowitzki is on the field, he is the top fantasy shortstop, period. However. that makes him the highest priced player at his position in daily and hard to roster. When he is on the disabled list, like now, it makes shortstop one of the hardest places to find production in fantasy. This exercise will help gamers navigate the rough waters as the last two months of the season are upon us. First, here are the categories in which I will explore:

wOBA: Weighted On Base Average represents all the ways a player gets on base (HBP counts in this metric). It is used to measure a player’s overall offensive value.

ISO: Isolated Power  is simply a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average.

OPS: On base plus Slugging is exactly what it’s surname suggests, adding together both statistics (OBP and SLG%). In the daily game being getting on base via the extra base hit is preferred.

AB/HR: A simple stat. How many homers does a player hit between each at bat? The fewer the better.

wRC+: Weighted Runs Created Plus A measure of how many runs a player creates. The “+” accounts for differing ballpark factors. So a player who’s home park is Coors is weighted to equal one in Citi Field, for example.

There will be some interesting mid-range and cheaper players who will emerge to target. Using the splits view, here are the shortstops that excel against southpaws.

SS versus Left-Handed Pitching (minimum 70 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .555
2. Hanley Ramirez .402
3. Brandon Crawford .387
4. Jhonny Peralta .372
5. Elvis Andrus .364
6. Jordy Mercer .355
7. Ian Desmond .353
8. Yunel Escobar .351
9. Starlin Castro .345
10. Alcides Escobar .340
11. Xander Bogaerts .329
12. Ruben Tejada .325
13. Jose Reyes .325

ISO:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .436
2. Hanley Ramirez .265
3. Jhonny Peralta .235
4. Ian Desmond .198
5. Brandon Crawford .194
6. Eduardo Escobar .161
7. Asdrubal Cabrera .153
8. Alcides Escobar .144
9. Jordy Mercer .139
10. Xander Bogaerts .132
11. Jose Reyes .130
12. Jed Lowrie .120

OPS:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 1.348
2. Hanley Ramirez .924
3. Brandon Crawford .897
4. Jhonny Peralta .861
5. Elvis Andrus .821
6. Jordy Mercer .817
7. Ian Desmond .806
8. Yunel Escobar .796
9. Starlin Castro .794
10. Alcides Escobar .774
11. Xander Bogaerts .738
12. Eduardo Escobar .737

AB/HR:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 8.7
2. Hanley Ramirez 17
3. Ian Desmond 25.3
4. Jhonny Peralta 27
5. Brandon Crawford 34.3
6. Jordy Mercer 36
7. Xander Bogaerts 38
8. Brad Miller 40.5
9. Eduardo Escobar 43.5
10. Alexei Ramirez 50
11. Jimmy Rollins 51.5
12. Derek Jeter 58

wRC+:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 250
2. Hanley Ramirez 164
3. Brandon Crawford 156
4. Jhonny Peralta 141
5. Jordy Mercer 129
6. Yunel Escobar 129
7. Ian Desmond 126
8. Elvis Andrus 126
9. Starlin Castro 117
10. Alcides Escobar 115
11. Ruben Tejada 110
12. Xander Bogaerts 105

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above (2014 Stats vs LHP):
1. Troy Tulowitzki – 78 AB, 20 R, 9 HR, 17 RBI, 1 SB, 397/515/833
2. Hanley Ramirez – 68 AB, 12 R, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 279/380/544
3. Jhonny Peralta – 81 AB, 12 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 247/380/481
4. Brandon Crawford – 103 AB, 12 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB, 311/392/505
5. Ian Desmond – 101 AB, 13 R, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB, 277/330/475
6. Jordy Mercer – 72 AB, 9 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, 319/359/458
7. Elvis Andrus – 102 AB, 13 R, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB, 333/389/431
8. Yunel Escobar – 67 AB, 4 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 313/378/418
9. Alcides Escobar – 90 AB, 8 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 SB, 300/330/444
10. Xander Bogaerts – 114 AB, 19 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 263/344/395
11. Starlin Castro – 88 AB, 11 R, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 307/374/420
12. Eduardo Escobar – 87 AB, 13 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 276/300/437

As I stated earlier, it is a distinct tier at the top with Tulowitzki one and Hanley Ramirez two. After that there is a smattering of players. Of note, Brandon Crawford has been excellent against lefties, like Brian McCann for the catchers. Jhonny Peralta and Ian Desmond provide pop but they are boom or bust. Lately, a hot option has been Jordy Mercer and he has been hitting second against lefties and makes a cheap target. I also like Xander Bogaerts against left-handed pitching and used him tonight against Mark Buehrle. His swing is dialing back in and when he is listed cheaply, is a great play in this split. Now a look at the shortstops who match up well with right-handed arms:

SS versus Right Handed Pitching (minimum 100 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .404
2. Didi Gregorius .362
3. Hanley Ramirez .358
4. Danny Santana .344
5. Josh Rutledge .336
6. Jimmy Rollins .333
7. Erick Aybar .329
8. Jhonny Peralta .328
9. Jose Reyes .326
10. Marwin Gonzalez .322
11. Starlin Castro .321
12. Alexei Ramirez .319

ISO:
1. Didi Gregorius .213
2. Troy Tulowitzki .207
3. Stephen Drew .192
4. Jhonny Peralta .176
5. Ian Desmond .176
6. Jimmy Rollins .174
7. Chris Owings .162
8. Starlin Castro .161
9. Hanley Ramirez .161
10. Brandon Crawford .150
11. Marwin Gonzalez .146
12. Josh Rutledge .146

OPS:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .930
2. Didi Gregorius .842
3. Hanley Ramirez .807
4. Danny Santana .788
5. Josh Rutledge .761
6. Jimmy Rollins .751
7. Erick Aybar .749
8. Jhonny Peralta .744
9. Jose Reyes .736
10. Starlin Castro .731
11. Marwin Gonzalez .726
12. Alexei Ramirez .722

AB/HR:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 19.8
2. Ian Desmond 22.8
3. Stephen Drew 24.8
4. Jimmy Rollins 24.9
5. Jhonny Peralta 25.3
6. Marwin Gonzalez 28.8
7. Didi Gregorius 29.7
8. Starlin Castro 29.9
9. Brad Miller 35
10. Hanley Ramirez 35.6
11. Asdrubal Cabrera 35.7
12. Alexei Ramirez 39

wRC+:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 145
2. Hanley Ramirez 133
3. Didi Gregorius 128
4. Danny Santana 119
5. Erick Aybar 114
6. Jimmy Rollins 112
7. Jhonny Peralta 110
8. Marwin Gonzalez 104
9. Jose Reyes 103
10. Starlin Castro 101
11. Asdrubal Cabrera 99
12. Josh Rutledge 98

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above (with 2014 vs RHP):
1. Troy Tulowitzki – 237 AB, 51 R, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 321/402/521
2. Didi Gregorius – 89 AB, 15 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB, 270/359/483
3. Hanley Ramirez – 249 AB, 36 R, 7 HR, 45 RBI, 11 SB, 277/369/438
4. Jimmy Rollins – 299 AB, 37 R, 12 HR, 37 RBI, 16 SB, 247/329/421
5. Jhonny Peralta – 278 AB, 25 R, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB, 255/313/432
6. Danny Santana – 126 AB, 17 R, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 3 SB, 317/336/452
7. Erick Aybar – 276 AB, 35 R, 5 HR, 41 RBI, 10 SB, 290/329/420
8. Stephen Drew – 99 AB, 7 R, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 202/275/394
9. Josh Rutledge – 103 AB, 15 R, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 282/333/427
10. Jose Reyes – 276 AB, 47 R, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 13 SB, 279/323/413
11. Ian Desmond – 296 AB, 28 R, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 8 SB, 240/292/416
12. Marwin Gonzalez – 144 AB, 16 R, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 264/316/410

Gregorius has been glorious against right handed pitching slashing 270/359/483 in the desert
Gregorius has been Greg-lorious against right handed pitching slashing .270/.359/.483 in the desert

Doing these articles has really helped me to identify some players who were not on my daily fantasy radar. Case in point is Didi Gregorius, who is quietly emerging in the dumpster fire that is the Diamondbacks. While Chris Owings got the fantasy love early in the year Gregorius is coming into his own and makes a great cheap option going forward against right-handed pitchers. I never would have thought that Erick Aybar had more RBI versus righties than Tulowitzki but it is right above. Two other sneaky plays are Danny Santana who was red hot before his injury but seems to be making adjustments and Josh Rutledge who will never replace Tulowitzki, but for daily and yearly leagues is filling in admirably. It isn’t always about having the most talent at a position, but the right matchup. That is why the splits are so important to monitor during the season.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/7eJjbO (Mercer), http://goo.gl/kPOSgL (Gregorius)

Post Break Preview: Shortstop

Best in fantasy at SS over the last year, feeling lucky this second half?
“Tulo” has been the best SS in the game over the past year. Feeling lucky, punk?

The shortstop position had shown distinct tiers for drafters in the preseason. Playing the injury prediction game with friends Troy Tulowitzki, HanRam and Jose Reyes was the. So investing in one of these players came with a caveat. For those who had faith in Tulowitzki, you have been rewarded. Jose Reyes has spent time on the disabled list already and Hanley Ramirez seems to have a different ailment each week, or is it daily lately? There have been some surprises at the position, as Alexei Ramirez, Erick Aybar, Jimmy Rollins and Starlin Castro who have provided great value in the first half. Disappointments that come to mind are Brad Miller, Jean Segura (though his regression is not a surprise) and J.J. Hardy. Where are the homers? Anyway, the season’s 2nd half may show that further shakeups are in order. Here are the top 20 Shortstops according to ESPN’s player rater along with their last 365 day stats as of the All-Star Break:

1. Troy Tulowitzki – 152 G, 102 R, 30 HR, 82 RBI, 2 SB 320/411/549
2. Alexei Ramirez – 164 G, 78 R, 13 HR, 69 RBI, 26 SB 284/318/406
3. Hanley Ramirez – 132 G, 81 R, 23 HR, 81 RBI, 18 SB 289/369/513
4. Jimmy Rollins – 158 G, 76 R, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 32 SB 243/347/349
5. Erick Aybar – 161 G, 84 R, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 19 SB 270/309/397
6. Jose Reyes – 146 G, 93 R, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 25 SB 279/337/412
7. Alcides Escobar – 164 G, 61 R, 3 HR, 49 RBI, 32 SB 256/285/336
8. Ian Desmond – 157 G, 71 R, 21 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB 259/312/412
9. Starlin Castro – 165 G, 58 R, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 5 SB 265/312/399
10. Elvis Andrus – 160 G, 92 R, 6 HR, 58 RBI, 43 SB 282/334/361
11. Asdrubal Cabrera – 156 G, 76 R, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 11 SB 245/302/391
12. Jhonny Peralta – 113 G, 48 R, 18 HR, 55 RBI, 2 SB 265/332/473
13. Jean Segura – 63 R, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 30 SB 236/267/322
14. Chris Owings* – 92 G, 31 R, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 9 SB 280/323/444
15. Andrelton Simmons – 159 G, 61 R, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 4 SB 261/312/411
16. Derek Jeter – 99 G, 38 R, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 6 SB 259/277/359
17. Brandon Crawford – 153 G, 51 R, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB 226/302/372
18. Jonathan Villar* – 129 G, 53 R, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 32 SB 221/287/331
19. Danny Santana – 40 G, 20 R, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 6 SB 313/348/429
20. J.J. Hardy – 151 G, 61 R, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 1 SB 280/315/393
*Chris Owings is on the the DL and Jonathan Villar is in the minors

I find it amazing how much J.J. Hardy’s value is impacted without the long balls. It may be a trend based on his past statistical year, Hardy is a hot streak away from increased value so the second half will tell us if this is who he really is. It’s safe to say that the league has caught up with Jean Segura, but that was to be expected, but he maintains value with his speed and sets himself up as a fantasy bargain next year. If the Brewers are going to stay in contention, they need him to step up. As much as I see people bash Andrelton Simmons, his stats over the past calender year are not all that different than Starlin Castro’s. Here are their ZiPS projections with leaders in each fantasy category:

ZiPS ROS Projected Leaders:

Runs:
1. Elvis Andrus 33
2. Troy Tulowitzki 32
3. Brad Miller 31
4. Jose Reyes 30
5. Asdrubal Cabrera 30
6. Erick Aybar 30
7. Ian Desmond 29
8. Starlin Castro 29
9. Jimmy Rollins 29
10. Hanley Ramirez 28

Home Runs:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 11
2. Ian Desmond 9
3. Hanley Ramirez 8
4. J.J. Hardy 7
5. Jhonny Peralta 6
6. Xander Bogaerts 6
7. Starlin Castro 6
8. Asdrubal Cabrera 6
9. Jimmy Rollins 6
10. Brad Miller 5

RBI:
1. Ian Desmond 34
2. Troy Tulowitzki 32
3. Hanley Ramirez 28
4. Starlin Castro 28
5. Asdrubal Cabrera 28
6. Jhonny Peralta 26
7. J.J. Hardy 25
8. Erick Aybar 25
9. Alexei Ramirez 23
10. Brad Miller 23

Stolen Bases:
1. Elvis Andrus 13
2. Jean Segura 12
3. Jose Reyes 11
4. Alcides Escobar 11
5. Jimmy Rollins 9
6. Ian Desmond 8
7. Alexei Ramirez 8
8. Hanley Ramirez 7
9. Erick Aybar 7
10. Danny Santana 7

Batting Average:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .311
2. Jose Reyes .283
3. Starlin Castro .278
4. Erick Aybar .278
5. Hanley Ramirez .275
6. Josh Rutledge .274
7. Alexei Ramirez .272
8. Elvis Andrus .271
9. J.J. Hardy .269
10. Jean Segura .269

Some players that have upside, albeit with some risk are Brad Miller, Xander Bogaerts and Danny Santana. The ZiPS projections seem to favor Miller but if he continues to bat at the bottom of Seattle’s order it will be hard to get to the runs and RBI predicted above, but he is worth a flier in the second half. I find it hard to believe that Xander Bogaerts will not rebound and even if the Red Sox become sellers, this is an offense that can provide runs. Danny Santana made his debut and took on the look of Jean Segura from a year ago with his fantasy splash. However, he has struggled since his return and learning to hit the ball to the opposite field will be a key in his development, but if he hits leadoff for the Twins he can still provide value moving forward. As of today, Tulowitzki and Ramirez are on the mend so their rankings going forward are tenuous and dependent upon health, but isn’t that always the case?

Desmond's power/speed combo makes him a second half stud
Desmond’s power/speed combo makes him a second half stud

My Second Half Ranks:

1. Troy Tulowitzki – He is the gold standard at SS, injuries are always the key
2. Ian Desmond – There are flashier, and higher batting averages, but his steadiness is the key (21 HR, 21 SB) in his last statistical year.
3. Hanley Ramirez – Maybe the most frustrating player to own in fantasy (or is it his teammate Puig?). Always is nicked up, leaving early and now hit on the wrist with a pitch. May be a good time to sell if you can
4. Jose Reyes – As stated above, if healthy he is an elite shortstop, a pennant push will keep him motivated to stay on the field
5. Starlin Castro – What a difference a year makes, hitting behind Anthony Rizzo and an evolving Cubs lineup makes him worth speculating on
6. Alexei Ramirez – Similar to Desmond, he is under-appreciated in fantasy but he fills the stat columns. Can be streaky but he is emerging from a slump and may finish strong
7. Erick Aybar – His value fluctuates but the Angels offense is potent and Aybar is in the middle of it. He’s also a sneaky source of RBI (70 over the last year)
8. Elvis Andrus – Elvis relies on his speed  for fantasy value. While the Rangers are struggling, this offense has to improve in the second half, right?
9. Jimmy Rollins – I had him too low entering the season as he and Chase Utley continue to put up stats. A trade to a contender may be just the right juice to squeeze out another fantasy-driven second half
10. Alcides Escobar – Has quietly been emerging this year and is only 27 years old
11. Jhonny Peralta – If the Cardinals are going to win the NL Central again this year he will need to provide more pop in the second half. With Allen Craig struggling, he is moving up in the order
12. Jean Segura – The loss of his child has to be a distraction but there is still time to turn around his season
13. J.J. Hardy – He could vault up this list with more power, this second half will tell us more about his fantasy value in the future
14. Brad Miller – I still believe. ZiPS agrees, hope we are correct
15. Jordy Mercer – Jordy goes virtually unnoticed but has been a key part of their success following the promotion of Gregory Polanco. Over his last 28 days he is hitting .325 with 12 RBI and a stolen base
16. Asdrubal Cabrera – I feel like I am always downgrading him but he left last night’s game with back spasms. He’s a free agent at the end of the year and Francisco Lindor was promoted to AAA. None are good signs to me
17. Jed Lowrie – What a difference a year makes. He has hit 12 home runs over the last 365 days but only 4 in the first half this year. The A’s could use a rebound from him
18. Xander Bogaerts – The potential is there, a nice second half would alleviate some of the worries about next year. May have been a year early on “X”
19. Stephen Drew – I do love him and he is probably safer than Bogaerts moving forward but I think the Red Sox wasted money on him (Editor’s note: Yes, yes they did)
20. Derek Jeter – Not really a fantasy factor anymore but I just wanted to recognize him as a team player who always hustled (on and off the field. Have you seen the women he has been with?), and a player baseball will miss. #RE2PECT

A couple of players who just missed include the Diamondbacks duo of Chris Owings (presently on the DL) and Didi Gregorious. Either may be a good trade chip in the off-season and both are improving this year. Danny Santana is another wild card but his minor league track record suggests his hot streak is going to be hard to maintain. If the Twins leave him at lead-off he will be a cheap source for runs and stolen bases. Shortstop is a position in transition with some big minor league talent on the way. It will be interesting to see how soon some of them will make their debuts.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on the Twitter machine @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ZiPS Projections, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/0NrPDC (Tulo), http://goo.gl/r1w7A4 (Desmond)

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/06

Who is excited baseball is back????? I know I am which also means that Daily Fantasy Baseball is back as well. I really enjoy DFS Baseball as it keeps you even more involved and keeps you up to date with guys you normally wouldn’t care about.

Well everything I am going to bring you my lineup in which I am playing over at FanDuel.com – Which if you haven’t joined just click this link here: http://partners.fanduel.com/processing/clickthrgh.asp?btag=a_3360b_2

I am going to bring you the lineup I feel is the best for you to bring home some $$$ for the day. Early on we are fighting the guessing game but riding some of the guys hot bats to start the season.

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/06

lineup

Digging into this lineup and really loving it. Here are some of the reasons I like the players I have in.

Andrew McCutchen vs. Adam Wainwright – hitting .429 (12/28) with 4 2Bs, a 3B, a HR, 3 RBIs & 2 BBs

Adam Lind vs. CC Sabathia – hitting .467 (7/15) with a 2B & 4 RBIs

Don’t forget to tune into the Fantasy Forecaster each and every Wednesday at 9 PM EST here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/foryourconsideration or download the show on iTunes by clicking the link here. https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-sports-script/id850876078?mt=2

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/05

Who is excited baseball is back????? I know I am which also means that Daily Fantasy Baseball is back as well. I really enjoy DFS Baseball as it keeps you even more involved and keeps you up to date with guys you normally wouldn’t care about.

So the day ended up going 50/50 for sure. Sanchez really let me down but Trout and Stanton proved worthy in the lineup 

Well everything I am going to bring you my lineup in which I am playing over at FanDuel.com – Which if you haven’t joined just click this link here: http://partners.fanduel.com/processing/clickthrgh.asp?btag=a_3360b_2

I am going to bring you the lineup I feel is the best for you to bring home some $$$ for the day. Early on we are fighting the guessing game but riding some of the guys hot bats to start the season.

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/05

lineup

This lineup is for the whole slate of games and here are a few reasons why I like some of them.

Jason Heyward vs. Stephen Strasburg – .450 (9/20) with a 2B, a HR, 2 RBIs & 2 BBs

Johnny Cueto started the season with a  gem against the Cardinals. 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 run and 8 Ks. Love him today against the Mets.

Bryce Harper vs. Julio Teheran – .500 (5/10) with 2 2Bs, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs & a BB

This is what my lineup looks like for the early slate

lineup2

And here is what my lineup looks for the late game slate

lineup3

Don’t forget to tune into the Fantasy Forecaster each and every Wednesday at 9 PM EST here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/foryourconsideration or download the show on iTunes by clicking the link here. https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-sports-script/id850876078?mt=2

5 Questions Surrounding Fantasy Baseball ShortStops

The MLB season is upon us which means it is time for the Fantasy Baseball season. We here at the Sports Script want to do everything possible in setting you up for draft day and helping you throughout the season to win a Fantasy Baseball Championship. We are gathering a team of Sports Script writers as well as some special guest to answer 5 key questions about each position for the upcoming 2014 Fantasy Baseball Season. Today we have gathered me (Ricky Valero), Matt Bell and Matt Wincherauk as we are going to take a look at the ShortStop.

5 Questions surrounding Fantasy SS

1 – Which player or players are you targeting?

Matt Bell – This is the one position I seem to struggle at yearly to pin point players. I think you obviously target Hanley Ramirez or Troy Tulowitzki, but of course they are both injury risks to waste a high pick on. They have a ton of reward if they don’t get hurt for you as both guys are élite players. I wouldn’t mind passing on these guys if you don’t get some value on them and taking a guy like Ian Desmond. He’s hit around .280 for his career and is a threat for 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases just like he did in 2013 again in 2014.

Matt Wincherauk – I’ve always been a huge fan of Troy Tulowitzki, and he’s probably the most sure things when it comes to a short stop. He’s the guy that I’ll be targeting come draft time.

Ricky – Jed Lowrie is someone I really want on all of my teams. In his 1st full season as a Big leaguer, Lowrie impressed hitting .290 with 15 HRs and 75 RBIs. He is currently ranked in the mid-teens on most draft boards and I see him sneaking among the top 8 fantasy SS this season.

2 – Which player are you staying away from?

Matt Bell – This is tough as I don’t see one guy that I would just hate to have on my team in the top of most rankings, so I’m going with Derek Jeter here. The guy is awesome and a hall of fame shortstop, but he’s not someone I want in his final year on my fantasy team. I think some fantasy players this year with go with the sentimental pick and take him this year and I’m not one of those people. Derek Jeter I wish you all the best, but I want to win my fantasy championship!

Matt Wincherauk – I am definitely staying away from Derek Jeter this year, despite him being a sentimental favorite. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy of late, and the production just isn’t there anymore. Some people will take him out of emotion.

Ricky – Jean Segura – His pre and post All-Star stats are a big concern. As you will see below.

Pre All-Star – .325 BA – 54 R – 121 H – 11 HR – 36 RBI – 27 SB
Post All-Star – .241 BA – 20 R – 52 H – 1 HR – 13 RBI – 17 SB

Such a big difference between the two half has put a ton of question surrounding his status for the 2014 season. With really not knowing which Segura I am going to get and him having such a high price in fantasy leagues, I don’t think I will be drafting him this season.

3 – Who is the biggest sleeper heading into 2014?

Matt Bell – The Sleeper at SS that I was going to go with was going to be Starlin Castro as I figure he will have some value this year after a terrible 2013 for his standards, but I decided that seemed to obvious. I’m going to go with a name that not many will be familiar with and that guy is Jonathan Villar. He’s going to be the starting short stop for the Houston Astros and should be batting leadoff. He hit for around .240 last year in 52 games, but was still able to steal 18 bases in that short time. He’s very fast and can be a threat for stolen bases as well as extra base hits.

Matt Wincherauk – My biggest sleeper is one of the best young prospects in baseball, its Xander Bogaerts. He really impressed everyone during the Red Sox run to a World Series Championship, and now he’s looking to blow up in his first full year.

Ricky – Everth Cabrera – Cabrera has yet to play a full season and boy if/when he does he is going to be good. He has huge upside with .280 average, 50+ SBs and 80-85 runs scored as the leadoff man for the Padres.

4 – Which player will be a bust for Fantasy owners?

Matt Bell – The biggest disappointment this year will be those people who wait and grab Jimmy Rollins in the later rounds thinking they’ve got a steal, but in reality they’ve got a 35-year-old shortstop. Rollins is going to be decent, but I don’t think he can be considered a top short stop option anymore and should just be passed on for some of the younger guys below him.

Matt Wincherauk – Jose Reyes is my pick for bust, mostly because the guy can never stay healthy. His first year was a bit of a disappointment, and don’t see things getting better in Toronto.

Ricky – Starlin Castro – One of my favorite guys heading into last season. He was a true bust and really killed all my fantasy teams. A ton of talk surrounding him being a potential “sleeper” this season and bouncing back from the miserable year he had. I just don’t see it happening, he had a low in hits, runs, RBIs, stolen bases, batting average, OBP, SLG and saw a career high in strikeouts. The patients at the plate is concerning and all the “sleeper” talk will make his stock higher than it deserves to be. Stay far away from him this season if you can.

5 – Give a bold prediction for one player.

Matt Bell – The bold prediction for short stop is that we see a breakout season for Castro after his worst year. He will finish in the top 5 of all shortstop and be named to the all-star team for the Cubs.

Matt Wincherauk – Despite the hype around Jean Segura and Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki will be the best shortstop in fantasy baseball. Another 30+ home run, and .300+ average for the best in baseball.

Ricky – Alexei Ramirez will be a top 5 Fantasy Shortstop in 2014. The power loss is a concern but a guy with back to back 20+ stolen bases, scores and has a solid average. Ramirez will step it up this season and Fantasy owners will sit back and enjoy.

If you have any questions about the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season make sure to hope on over to twitter and ask. You can follow me @rickygangster @mattbell211 & @TheMattyWin and we will answer any and all questions.

Want to help support the Sports Script? You ever buy anything from Amazon? Just use our link and we get a little kick back to support the site! Sports Script Amazon Link

2014 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings

MLB season is upon us and Fantasy Baseball is back and better than ever! Over the next few weeks we are planning on getting you ready for any of the upcoming Fantasy drafts that you have. This week we are sending out our initial 2014 rankings that will be updated as Spring Training progresses. The week after we are going to answer 5 questions about each position as well as giving you some insight into some players that we like as well. Matt Bell is joining me today as we rank ShortStop as well as take a look at one guy we like higher than his ADP and one we have lower than his ADP.

2014 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings (as of 02/21/14)

Rank Ricky Valero Matt Bell  
1 Hanley Ramirez Troy Tulowitzki
2 Troy Tulowitzki Hanley Ramirez
3 Ian Desmond Ian Desmond
4 Jose Reyes Jose Reyes
5 Jean Segura Elvis Andrus
6 Elvis Andrus Starlin Castro
7 Starlin Castro Jean Segura
8 Everth Cabrera Everth Cabrera
9 Alexei Ramirez JJ Hardy  
10 Ben Zobrist Alexei Ramirez
11 JJ Hardy Ben Zobrist
12 Jed Lowrie Jonathan Villar
13 Jhonny Peralta Brad Miller
14 Asdrubal Cabrera Jhonny Peralta
15 Andrelton Simmons Asdrubal Cabrera
16 Xander Bogaerts Jed Lowrie
17 Jimmy Rollins Jurickson Profar
18 Erick Aybar Andreltton   Simmons
19 Jonathan Viller Jimmy Rollins
20 Bradley Miller Xander Bogaerts
21 Jurickson Profar Erick Aybar
22 Derek Jeter Alcides Escobar
23 Alcides Escobar Zack Cozard
24 Zack Cozart Derek Jeter
25 Stephen Drew Stephen Drew

Why I ranked (blank) higher than his Current ADP (ADP average comes from the rankings at Fantasypros.com)

Ricky – Alexei Ramirez – Current ADP 14th – I have him ranked 9th – Ramirez RBIs dropped last season in a weak White Sox lineup but saw his batting average, hits, runs and stolen bases increase. Abreu added to this lineup will help Ramirez see some better pitches as well. A solid average, gets on base and steals as well, he will help you all the way around.

Matt Bell – Jonathan Villar is my sleeper in all fantasy leagues this year as I really like what this guy can do. He’s got an ADP of 19th, but is all the way up to the 12th spot in my rankings. He has the potential to steal 35 or more bases this year as he snagged 18 in only 58 games last year. If you miss out on Tulo or Hanley in the 1st few rounds you can always let the SS spot fall to the late rounds and grab Villar who can help in the stolen base category quite a bit.

Why I ranked (blank) lower than his current ADP.

Ricky – Asdrubal Cabrera – Current ADP 11th – I have him ranked 14th – Cabrera is on the downside of his career and honestly don’t believe he is worth a slot on the roster. In 2014, he might only be a one maybe two category guy which is just not good enough for fantasy owners.

Matt Bell – Jean Segura is a little lower in my rankings than most as he’s got an ADP of 4, but in my rankings you will find him down at 7th. I think he’s a going to be a good shortstop, but we’ve only seen him play one full season so far. I want to see more from this young shortstop, before I can rank him ahead of a few guys. I’m also putting him behind Castro who I’m fully expecting to have a bounce back year and I think has a chance to equal his stats with a few more home runs.

In case you missed these, here are my Catcher Rankings (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-BY), 1st baseman (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-BZ), 2nd baseman rankings (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-C2) and 3rd Baseman Rankings (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-C7).

If you have any questions about the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season make sure to hope on over to twitter and ask. You can follow me @rickygangster and I will answer any and all questions.

Want to help support the Sports Script? You ever buy anything from Amazon? Just use our link and we get a little kick back to support the site! Sports Script Amazon Link

The Sports Script MLB Offseason Blog by @mattbell211

The MLB off-season is in full swing right now with teams preparing for spring training! I personally can’t wait till February 25th when players must report to spring training, but now is the time for teams to make moves to prepare for a World Series run. The goal of this blog is to simply break down each move that takes place either via trade or free agent signing with a short one to two sentence explanation of how it impacts the upcoming MLB season.

Note: I will only list a signing or trade after it’s been made official with MLB

Note 12/23: The blog has been updated if I’m missing something and you are reading please contact me at my twitter. I apologize for the delay in between updates this time.

Note 1/11: The blog is up to date, but not a log going on.

TRADES

11/21/13 – Detroit Tigers traded 1B Prince Fielder to Texas Rangers for 2B Ian Kinsler

This trade is basically about dumping some money off the books for the Tigers as they also send $30 million to the Rangers with Fielder. The Tigers lose some power in the line up but the money frees them up to sign guys like Max and Miggy in the future which to me is more important. Kinsler is no slouch either and will offer some power in the line up and can play a solid 2nd base. I’m very excited as a baseball fan to see what Fielder can do in Texas at Arlington Stadium which is a hitters park.

Trade Winner: Tigers

11/23/13 – St. Louis Cardinals traded 3B David Freese and RHP Fernando Salas to Los Angeles Angels for CF Peter Bourjos and RF Randal Grichuk.

David Freese was a hometown hero during the 2011 World Series for the Cardinals, but since then he’s done nothing to prove he’s more than an average 3b. He hit just .262 with 9 home runs last year and the Cardinals needed the outfield depth that Bourjos will provide them. The Cardinals now have a solid center fielder in Bourjos who can cover a ton of ground. The Angels hope that last year was just a down year and that they can get the 2011 world series version of David Freese.

Trade Winner: Cardinals

12/2/13 – Detroit Tigers traded RHP Doug Fister to Washington Nationals for LHP Ian Krol, 2B Steve Lombardozzi and LHP Robbie Ray.

I wish I knew what Detroit was thinking here, but I sure don’t! Doug Fister was a solid starter this year for the Tigers earning 14 wins on the years. He’s going to fill in nicely for a Nationals pitching staff that could use some help towards the 4 and 5 starters spots.

Trade Winner: Nationals

12/3/13 – Baltimore Orioles traded RHP Jim Johnson to Oakland Athletics for Player To Be Named Later and 2B Jemile Weeks.

The Orioles could use the second baseman that they got in Weeks, but the whole point of the trade was about saving money. The Orioles would have had to pay a huge amount of money in arbitration and they avoided that by trading him. The Oakland Athletics get a solid closer who had the most saves  over the last two seasons.

Trade Winner: Athletics

12/3/13 – Texas Rangers traded CF Craig Gentry and RHP Josh Lindblom to Oakland Athletics for RF Michael Choice and 2B Chris Bostick.

There is not a lot to say about this trade, but I do like what the Athletics did here. Gentry can be a solid outfielder in the major leagues I believe.

Trade Winner: Athletics

12/3/13 – Colorado Rockies traded Player To Be Named Later and CF Dexter Fowler to Houston Astros for CF Brandon Barnes and RHP Jordan Lyles.

Houston gets a good ball player in Fowler who I don’t think ever got the credit he deserved in Houston. The Rockies pick up a couple nice young ball players in Barnes and Lyles, but they sure are giving up a good one in Fowler.

Trade Winner: Astros

12/5/13 –Milwaukee Brewers traded RF Norichika Aoki to Kansas City Royals for LHP Will Smith.

This is kind of under the radar trade that most people wont care about, but it could be a nice get for the Royals. Aoki is a very solid outfielder hitting .286 with 20 stolen bases last year.

Trade Winner: Royals

12/10/13 – Arizona Diamondbacks traded LF Adam Eaton to Chicago White Sox for LHP Hector Santiago and Player To Be Named Later.Los Angeles Angels traded RF Mark Trumbo and Player To Be Named Later to Arizona Diamondbacks for LHP Hector Santiago and LHP Tyler Skaggs.

(Trumbo goes to Diamondbacks, Santiago and Skaggs to the Angels, and Eaton to the White Sox)

The Diamondbacks get a power bat they’ve been looking for. I know Trumbo has a terrible on base percentage, but he does hit 30 to 40 home runs a year. The Diamondbacks are going to have Goldy and Trumbo hitting back to back which will produce a lot of home runs in that park. The Angels get a couple of young arms to try build a solid pitching staff around. I like what each team did in this trade, but my clear-cut winner is the Diamondbacks.

Trade Winner: Diamondbacks

12/10/13 – Oakland Athletics traded LHP Brett Anderson and cash to Colorado Rockies for LHP Drew Pomeranz and RHPChris Jensen.

Brett Anderson has been a disappointing player because of injuries over his career, but he’s got a ton of upside. The Rockies are hoping he can be the front end starter they need in the rotation and stay healthy. The Athletics clear a spot in their rotation they need after signing Kazmir and acquire some young talent that hopefully help the club in the future.

Trade Winner: Athletics

12/13/13 – Seattle Mariners traded RHP Carter Capps to Miami Marlins for 1B Logan Morrison.

Logan Morrison is the name to know here as he can hit the ball really well at times but is a very streaky hitter. Morrison has some power, but he’s not going to do much other than hold down a outfield spot for the Mariners. The Marlins grab Capps in an effort to boost their rotation with young pitching.

Trade Winner: Mariners

12/16/13 – Chicago White Sox traded RHP Addison Reed to Arizona Diamondbacks  for 3B Matt Davidson

The average fan of baseball probably hasn’t heard much about either of these guys, but they are both solid baseball players. I really like the potential in both guys, but I think the White Sox get a future star in Davidson.

Trade Winner: White Sox

FREE AGENT SIGNINGS

11/12/13 – Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent RF Marlon Byrd.

Byrd adds some power to a Phillies team that could for sure use some help in the lineup. I like the signing for the Phillies, but he’s got to hit like last year for it to be a successful one.

11/13/13 – Oakland Athletics signed free agent SS Nick Punto.

Punto is very solid defensively and adds a nice glove to the infield to help the Athletics out.

11/21/13 – Kansas City Royals signed free agent LHP Jason Vargas.

Vargas just adds to the Royals rotation a veteran pitcher, that really doesn’t help or hurt them.

11/22/13 – Colorado Rockies signed free agent RHP LaTroy Hawkins.

This has home runs written all over it. Hawkins will struggle in Colorado with the  long balls.

11/24/13 – St. Louis Cardinals sign Jhonny Peralta 

I’ll be called a homer here, but I don’t care! I love the signing of Peralta as it gives the Cardinals a power bat from the shortstop position that they have not had in years.

11/25/13 – Cleveland Indians signed free agent OF David Murphy.

Murphy is coming off a down year where only hit for an average of .220 obviously the Indians are hoping they get much better production.

11/26/13 – Cincinnati Reds signed free agent 2B Skip Schumaker

Skip is simply a utility baseball player that will fill in for the Reds at multiple positions through out the year. He’s a decent hitter as well hitting .285 for his career.

11/29/13 – San Fransico Giants agreed to terms with P Ryan Vogelsong

Vogelsong is coming off a year where he had a 5.73 ERA on the year. There is not much to say about a guy coming off that kind of season, but I believe the Giants think he can turn it around and become a solid starting pitcher.

12/3/13 – New York Yankees signed free agent C Brian McCann.

This is a very nice additions for the Yankees, while I still think they over paid for McCann they get a nice left-handed bat. The left-handed power hitting catcher will play nicely with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.

12/3/13 – Minnesota Twins signed free agent RHP Ricky Nolasco.

Nolasco is an average pitcher, but he will help a Twins staff that was not very good last year. It’s a good fit for both the team and Nolasco.

12/5/13 – Minnesota Twins signed free agent RHP Phil Hughes.

The Twins are picking up pitchers to fill out the rotation and Hughes is another solid additions. He’s not an ace, but he should make for a decent starter for the Twins.

12/6/13 – Miami Marlins signed free agent C Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Salty is a pretty good catcher and hitter as well. The Marlins need solid baseball players after a horrible year last year and Salty brings a World Series ring with him that could provide leadership to the young guys in Miami.

12/6/13 – Miami Marlins signed free agent SS Rafael Furcal.

Furcal didn’t play last year with injury, but when healthy he’s a pretty good shortstop. He’s not going to provide much pop to the Marlins line up, but he will hold down the SS position with some solid defense.

12/7/13 – New York Yankees signed free agent CF Jacoby Ellsbury.

To date this is the biggest signing to take place as Ellsbury leaves the world champion Red Sox to go to the hated Yankees. Ellsbury is a great ball player when healthy, but the key is when healthy he’s injury prone and the Yankees gave way to much for him to be hurt.

12/7/13 – Boston Red Sox signed free agent RHP Edward Mujica.

Mujica was great for the Cardinals last year to start the year, then it all feel apart for him. I’m not sure how the Red Sox will use him, but i’m sure he will come out of the bullpen as some sort of set up man.

12/7/13 – Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent RHP Brian Wilson.

THE BEARD IS BACK! The question now is can the beard stay healthy?

12/9/13 – New York Mets signed free agent CF Curtis Granderson.

The Mets make a splash in free agency this year signing one of the best outfielders our there. Granderson spent some time on the DL last year only playing 61 games for the Yankees and hitting .229 with 7 home runs during that time. The Mets are going to need more out of Granderson than 61 games if they are going to compete. 

12/10/13 – Texas Rangers signed free agent C J.P. Arencibia.

I like this signing for the Rangers as Arencibia will be able to back up Soto and can hit for power as well. He’s got the 4th most home runs among active catchers over the last 3 season and should be a decent addition for the Rangers next year.

12/10/13 – Miami Marlins signed free agent 1B Garrett Jones.

I’m a big fan of Garrett Jones and he’s always helped me at times in fantasy, but I’ve got to admit he never got it going last year. The Marlins aren’t a very good team thought, and I”m anxious to see what Jones can do given playing time daily. I’ll revisit this signing during the season and hope Jones is playing solid baseball.

12/11/13 – Detroit Tigers signed free agent LF Rajai Davis.

Rajai is almost an automatic stolen base when he gets on base that is! Davis will likely share time with Andy Dirks and be in the line up when the Tigers are facing a left-handed pitcher.

12/12/13 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent 2B Robinson Cano

Jay-Z done went and got Cano PAID! Cano gets a big deal as it’s not quite the 300 millions we all thought he wanted he still gets 10 years and around 240 million. Cano will struggle to hit home runs as the Safeco filed is not a hitters park. He’s still going to provide an all-star player in Seattle with plenty left in the bat. The Mariners have nothing to lose with this deal, but I still think by about year 6 of this 10 year deal they will regret it.

12/12/13 – Washington Nationals signed free agent LF Nate McLouth.

This signing provides the Nationals with a solid 4th outfielder. McLouth will give them depth at each spot in the outfield and will probably see more at bats than a typical 4th outfielder. The 32-year-old McLouth batted .258/.329/.399 with 12 homers and a career-best 30 stolen bases for the Orioles last season which for sure helps the Nationals.

12/13/13 – Seattle Mariners signed free agent 1B Corey Hart.

I actually like Hart as a solid underrated pick up for the Mariners. He spent much of last season on the DL with an injury but if he can return with a year like he had in 2012 he could be a very nice addition for the Mariners.

12/13/13 – Colorado Rockies signed free agent 1B Justin Morneau.

We know Morneau has some power, so going to Colorado we can expect a few more home runs. I think he’s a nice replacement at 1B for the Rockies and should provide some pop, but I don’t expect anything special.

12/13/13 – Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent RHP Edinson Volquez.

Volquez is decent, but he’s also a very risky signing. The Pirates were able to turn some pitchers into studs this year thought, so who knows how to judge this signing.

12/14/13 – New York Mets signed free agent RHP Bartolo Colon.

Colon just got paid with this deal. The Mets fans have a had a rough couple of year, so I hope for their sake this works out, but I really think they overpaid for an old pitcher.

12/16/13 –St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent 2B Mark Ellis.

Ellis will play a utility role for the Cardinals this year and I have to say he’s a very solid utility guy. Ellis hit .270 last year for the Dodgers while playing in 126 games. The Cardinals just need him to give guys off throughout the year.

12/16/13 – Kansas City Royals signed free agent 2B Omar Infante.

The Royals probably overpaid for Infante, but to compete they have to overpay for guys. Infante hit .318 last year and will a key piece in the Royals 2014 season.

12/17/13 – San Francisco Giants signed free agent LF Michael Morse

Morse has to stay health for this signing to work out. Morse, if healthy will provide some power to a Giants line up that sure needed it.

12/27/13 – Texas Rangers signed free agent LF Shin-Soo Choo.

The Rangers are making an early push to become the winners of the offseason obviously. That line up in Texas is looking very dangerous and the decision to add Choo is going to add a nice pop. I think Choo can do big things next year in that line up and in the ball park.

A.L. All Star Game Lineup

All Star Game

The latest voting numbers for the MLB All Star Game were released over the weekend and the race in the American League is certainly heating up. Third baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is reigning supreme with 4,337,223 votes and on pace to set record numbers for overall votes. Currently Josh Hamilton holds the record for the most All Star votes received at 11,073,744 in the 2012 season. The Baltimore Orioles are making a splash with 4 position players occupying the lead in votes. In the outfield, the battle for the final spot is a close one.

1st Baseman:

Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles has a secure spot with 3,960,299 votes, the second most overall votes. Davis is having an impressive season leading the league with 27 homeruns, has 69 RBI’s and is batting a .336 average.  Prince Fielder of the Detroit Tigers follows Davis in votes with 2,579,031. Fielder has 12 homeruns, 55 RBI’s, and is batting .275.

2nd Baseman:

Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees is leading the voting with 3,032, 183 votes. Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox occupies the number 2 spot with 2,135,499. Cano and Pedroia have similar 2013 numbers, Cano with 44 RBI’s and a .278 average, Pedroia with 41 RBI’s and a .305 average, but the real difference comes in the power hitting. Cano has 16 homeruns on the season while Pedroia has 4. Traditionally power hitters draw the most interest from fans.

Shortstop:

While J. J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles still holds the lead in votes, Jhonny Peralta has moved ahead of Elvis Andrus in voting. The more deserving short stop is hard to decipher. Peralta has had a fantastic season thus far, batting .331 with 31 RBI’s and 6 HR’s, and only 4 errors on the year. Of Hardy and Andrus, he has the best fielding percentage. However, Hardy is a power-hitting short stop with 14 HR’s. He has 43 RBI’s and a .270 batting average. Hardy has been on a tear as of late and is the reigning Gold Glove winner. A case can be made for either. Currently, Hardy has 2,788,972 votes compared to Peralta’s 1,838,500.

3rd Baseman:

Miguel Cabrera has comfortably claimed a spot on the All Star team with Manny Machado second in voting with 2,097,804 votes. Cabrera is on pace for another career-defining season with 74 RBI’s, 20 HR’s and a .368 batting average. Machado is having a breakout year and may well be the best overall 3rd baseman in the league; however, he plays the same position as the best pure hitter in baseball. Machado has 64 RBI’s, 12 HR’s, and a .299 batting average in 2013.

Catcher:

Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins holds the starting spot at 2,788,972 votes. Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles is second with 2,068, 032 votes. Mauer should get the spot as he is having a more consistent season at the plate. Wieters has had an under-performing year, hitting .233 with 37 RBI’s and 9 HR’s, but has thrown out 48% of attempted steals. Mauer is hitting .327 with 25 RBI’s and 8 HR’s, while throwing out 40% of attempted steals.

DH:

David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox claims the DH spot with 3,247,462 votes (batting .309, 16 HR’s and 55 RBI’s). Lance Berkman of the Texas Rangers is far behind with 1,519, 503 votes. Third in voting is Edwin Encarnacion (1,091,593 votes) of the Toronto Blue Jays who may be more deserving of the spot. While Berkman is hitting .260 with 33 RBI’s and 6 HR’s, Encarnacion is hitting .269 with 59 RBI’s and an impressive 20 HR’s on the year.

Outfield:

With Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels looking secure in the first and second outfield spot, 3,571, 693 and 3,548,195 respectively, there is a 3-way battle for the final spot. Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles holds a slim lead at 1,915,860 votes. Close behind him is Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays with 1,867,367, a lead of only 48,000 votes. This week’s voting update puts him ahead of Torii Hunter of the Detroit Tigers, who currently has 1,851,657 votes, only 16,000 behind Bautista. If Jones and Markakis both get a spot it will be the first time in Orioles franchise history that outfield teammates are selected and only the 17th time in MLB history.

Pitching:

Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers has a spotless record in the 2013 season at 11-0, an impressive stat even with the support of the Tigers’ strong offensive line-up. He has also struck out 6 or more batters in each of his 15 starts, the fourth longest consecutive streak. Holding batters to a .192 average, 122 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.05, Scherzer is a worthy candidate for starting pitcher. Between Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister, of the Detroit Tigers, AL Manager Jim Leyland has a plethora of options on his own roster. Other candidates for the starting position include Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox. Darvish boasts an incredible 143 strikeouts, holds opponents to a .208 batting average, and has an ERA of 2.95. Buchholz has 81 strikeouts, holds opponents to a .195 batting average, with an ERA of 1.71. However, Buchholz is currently on the 15-day DL making his availability uncertain. In relief, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees should be an easy selection. Already with 26 saves in 2013, 43-year-old Rivera has 634 regular season saves as well as 4 All Star game saves. Rivera is set to retire after this season.

While securing a spot on the All Star roster is not necessarily an indication of stellar performance on the season (see Derek Jeter who managed to accumulate 819,175 votes) we are looking at a crop of the very best representing the American League.

Voting is open until July 4th. Visit MLB.com to cast your ballot.