Archive for February, 2015

Adam Wainwright, Enormous Draft Risk

Nearly two years ago in this space, we wrote about how Adam Wainwright’s extension was a bargain, given the production he offered compared to the massive dollar figures other players across the sport were getting.

To miss a full season to Tommy John surgery and return without missing a beat while getting back up to speed — Wainwright’s 2012 featured baseball’s sixth-best FIP — is practically unheard of.

Wainwright did it, and then he kept doing it. His 2013 was the best season of his career and might have earned him his first Cy Young were it not for the historic performance of Clayton Kershaw.

In 2014, Wainwright did it again, putting up a career-best 2.38 ERA. He also leads all of baseball in innings pitched over the past two seasons, which doesn’t even take into account the 51 additional postseason frames he contributed. Some guys never make it back the same from elbow surgery, but the post-surgery version of Wainwright has continued to be among baseball’s best.

So when Insider recently put together a “Top 10 Starting Pitchers” list for a national television broadcast that didn’t include Wainwright, Cardinals fans were understandably displeased. When I explain right now why he shouldn’t be considered among the top 20 starting pitchers for 2015, I don’t imagine that reaction is going to improve. But there’s risk here. Lots of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Joey Votto Is Still A Star

Once considered a player worthy of a massive $225 million contract extension, Joey Votto has clearly seen his popularity drop considerably among the Cincinnati Reds faithful. A quick look recently at a popular online forum for Reds fans revealed regular complaints about the hitter Votto “used to be,” that he’s “declining,” that he’s “no longer a run producer,” and that he’s massively, incredibly overpaid.

Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman recentlystoked the fires by suggesting that if Votto leads the league in on-base percentage in 2015, the team would somehow “be in deep trouble.”

OK, so that overpaid part might be valid — Votto is still due $213 million through his age-39 season — and you can understand the frustration to some extent, considering he hit only six homers last year and didn’t take the field after July 5 because of a pair of quad injuries. At 31, and with three serious leg injuries in the past three years on his résumé, Votto has probably put his MVP candidate days behind him.

But there’s a big difference between “probably not worth the money” and somehow being a detriment to the Reds’ hopes. Reports of Votto’s demise are painfully premature; the seemingly forgotten superstar can certainly be good again in 2015, but he really never stopped being good. Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs+ 2015!

As the new baseball year starts, we celebrate here at FanGraphs+ by compiling an annual of sorts. Equal parts fantasy and real, our articles in this annual take advantage of our best resources here at FanGraphs in order to scout baseball players, research topics, and, in general, think about baseball as best we can.

For the non-fantasy player, our 1200 player caps can serve as gentle prods in the direction of the most interesting aspects of a player’s production. Or for a tickle on a rainy spring day. You don’t have to be interested in fantasy baseball to wonder how the clustering of a pitcher’s release point is correlated to their command peripherals, or how changing a team’s on base percentage affects the individual hitters in the lineup. Just be a baseball geek and you’ll love Dan Farnsworth’s breakdowns of a few key hitters and their mechanics at the plate — remember, this is the man that spotted the changes J.D. Martinez made that launched the Tiger into stardom.

But if you are a fantasy player, there’s gobs here for you. We hope you enjoy! It’ll only cost you $5.99 to enjoy the following:

1200 Player Caps
Eventually including all 50+ future value caps from Kiley McDaniel, these player caps will reside right on the player pages once you log in. You’ll also have access to previous player caps, for fun.

The Annual
How Much Does Having Runners on Base Improve a Hitter? by Jeff Zimmerman
Breaking Down Jung-Ho Kang by Dan Farnsworth
The Fringe Five Prospects (Plus Five) by Carson Cistulli
The Importance of Release Point Consistency by Dan Schwartz
Breaking Down Steven Souza by Dan Farnsworth
Japan’s Best, Now and Future by Jason Coskrey
The Daily Fantasy Baseball Compendium by Brad Johnson
Using Minor League Statistics To Find Sleepers by Chris Mitchell
Top 50 Rookies for Fantasy Prospects by Marc Hulet
Predicting the Quality Start by Michael Barr
Developing The Bestest xBABIP Equation Yet by Michael Podhorzer
Breaking Down Jedd Gyorko by Dan Farnsworth
Don’t Call Them Tiers: Fantasy Talent Distribution by Zach Sanders

2015 Batter Profiles: A – B

Jose Abreu

Debut: 2014 |  BirthDate: 1/29/1987 | Team: White Sox | Position: 1B
’14 622 176 36 3 107 80 .317 .383 .581 .411 42.3 -14.4 5.3
’15 611 154 35 3 100 86 .285 .358 .537 .385 30.2 -13.9 4.0

Profile: Abreu put to rest any concerns of not being able to catch up to velocity in his first year stateside, handily winning the Rookie of the Year award with his monster offensive production. Abreu performed like one of the best power hitters in the league in 2014, and he showed no signs that he will slow down in 2015. You may expect some regression in the batting average department, but Abreu demonstrated tremendous ability to make adjustments as pitchers changed their approach to him throughout the year. Not only does he possess top of the scale power, he also is a solid pure hitter, getting hits all over the field rather than having to sell out to hit homers. Expect more of the same this year. (Dan Farnsworth)

Quick Opinion: Abreu stepped into the league and immediately produced like one of its best all-around hitters. 2015 may bring a slightly regressed batting average, but he has the makeup needed to make pitchers pay even when they properly gameplan against him. Another triple crown-caliber season could be in the works if he continues to carry a solid approach into each at bat as he did in 2014.

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2015 Batter Profiles: C

Asdrubal Cabrera

Debut: 2007 |  BirthDate: 11/13/1985 | Team: Rays | Position: 2B/SS
’13 562 123 14 9 64 66 .242 .299 .402 .307 -6.3 -7.7 0.5
’14 616 133 14 10 61 74 .241 .307 .387 .308 0.7 -4.1 1.7
’15 601 132 14 8 61 65 .244 .310 .383 .307 0.6 -5.5 1.6

Profile: As someone who watched most every game Asdrubal Cabrera played in an Indians uniform, I can admit there’s nary a player more frustrating to watch to me. But Cabrera is a better fantasy option than real life, because his bat is actually pretty decent for a middle infielder. He might be more likely to hit 10 homers than match the 25 he put up in 2011, but the power is still good for the position. An early debut perhaps makes Cabrera seem older than he is, but he’s still just 29 and projects as something like a league-average hitter moving forward, which you can live with up the middle. Cabrera has kept the power up by hitting more fly balls each of the last two years, but he’s also moving to a notorious pitcher’s park in Tampa Bay. He might take a playing time cut in his new home in Tampa Bay, if the team needs to look past their one-year stopgap at some point in the season. (August Fagerstrom)

Quick Opinion: Cabrera isn’t a great real-life shortstop, which is why he won’t be playing much more shortstop moving forward, but he’ll qualify at both positions up the middle and actually has a pretty decent bat for the position(s). That being said, he chased more bad pitches than ever last year, and his new fly-ball heavy approach may not be suited for Tampa Bay. You probably don’t want him to start for you in fantasy, but you could do worse, and he’s a solid backup for either position.

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2015 Batter Profiles: D – F

Travis d’Arnaud

Debut: 2013 |  BirthDate: 2/10/1989 | Team: Mets | Position: C
’13 112 20 1 0 5 4 .202 .286 .263 .254 -4.7 0.1 -0.1
’14 421 93 13 1 41 48 .242 .302 .416 .313 1.2 0.6 1.6
’15 502 114 17 2 60 53 .251 .313 .428 .324 5.9 5.3 2.9

Profile: We started writing about Travis d’Arnaud almost monthly here at FanGraphs after his return from Triple-A last year, and deservedly so. I personally noted from August fifth onward, he outdid Yan Gomes’ season line. A more aggressive approach per Nicholas Minnix was a big reason for his success. From pitch-type and discipline perspectives, TDA has little issue hitting breaking pitches; he swings less often than the league at pitches out of the zone and more often than the league at pitches inside the zone. His quality balls in play (line-drive) approach and batted ball spray should ensure counting stats. TDA should be a top 10 fantasy catcher next year. Last year, TDA had the ninth best catcher isolated slugging and contact rate. Only Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey and Brian McCann were top nine in both rates and Lucroy’s isolated slugging percentage (.174) was actually ten points under TDA’s. (Dan Schwartz)

Quick Opinion: Kevin Plawecki looming will hopefully motivate TDA. A healthier David Wright and the addition of Michael Cuddyer should mean more RBI-related counting stats for TDA. Batted ball spray and the ability to hit breaking pitches means batting average potential. 120+ games should mean 17+ homers. There is a good chance that TDA winds up as our seventh best fantasy catcher in 2015.

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2015 Batter Profiles: I – L

Chris Iannetta

Debut: 2006 |  BirthDate: 4/8/1983 | Team: Angels | Position: C
’13 399 73 11 0 39 40 .225 .358 .372 .330 3.2 3.4 2.1
’14 373 77 7 3 43 41 .252 .373 .392 .343 10.6 4.2 2.9
’15 416 78 10 3 40 46 .224 .339 .358 .315 2.1 8.8 2.7

Profile: Chris Iannetta may be in for a bump in playing time now that Hank Conger is in Houston, and that could turn Iannetta into a useful catcher in OBP leagues. Iannetta’s greatest offensive attribute is his career 14.2% walk rate which has translated into an OBP north of .350 each of the last two seasons. Even if he surpasses 400 plate appearances for the first time since 2008, Iannetta is likely capped at around 10 home runs and 50 RBI and runs. Meanwhile, he has a .236 career batting average. Even in two-catcher leagues with standard roto categories, Iannetta falls a bit short of draftable. (Scott Spratt)

Quick Opinion: A possible increase in playing time with Hank Conger in Houston makes Chris Iannetta an intriguing deep league option in OBP leagues. In standard formats, he’s more of a mid-tier third catcher.

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2015 Batter Profiles: G – H

Freddy Galvis

Debut: 2012 |  BirthDate: 11/14/1989 | Team: Phillies | Position: 3B/SS
’13 222 48 6 1 19 13 .234 .283 .385 .291 -6.3 0.3 0.1
’14 128 21 4 1 12 14 .176 .227 .319 .243 -6.1 -0.5 -0.3
’15 522 110 11 5 48 44 .226 .269 .353 .275 -16.5 3.1 0.2

Profile: Freddy Galvis missed more than two months of the 2014 campaign because of the fractured clavicle he sustained when he slid into a barrier in foul territory. It’s not as if Philadelphia missed his offense (.176/.227/.319 in 128 plate appearances), however. A 25-year-old whose best season in three with the stick is .234/.283/.385 in 222 PAs (2013), with a minor league resume promising little else, and who plays, essentially, average defense doesn’t sound like a great fantasy bet. Galvis will have a chance to start now that Jimmy Rollins is on the West Coast, so the question is how long Philly will go without a viable alternative. The switch-hitting Galvis offers no power or speed and will surely hit in front of the pitcher when he’s in the lineup. It’s hard to endorse him as a warm body in an NL-only league, even, but maybe he’ll turn out to be one, if his owners are lucky. (Nicholas Minnix)

Quick Opinion: Galvis will have a chance to play shortstop every day, but he’s below-average in virtually all phases of the game on offense. He could be a lukewarm body in an NL-only league, but Philadelphia will probably be open to alternatives that present themselves.

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2015 Batter Profiles: M – O

Manny Machado

Debut: 2012 |  BirthDate: 7/6/1992 | Team: Orioles | Position: 3B
’13 710 189 14 6 71 88 .283 .314 .432 .325 1.1 33.6 6.3
’14 354 91 12 2 32 38 .278 .324 .431 .332 3.5 7.8 2.5
’15 610 152 18 6 69 76 .271 .319 .436 .332 7.1 19.7 5.1

Profile: For a while, it appeared Manny Machado might not be ready to hit at the big league level. His two years of full time play at the big league level featured long periods of terrible slumps book-ended by moments of inspiration. Still just 22 years old, Machado’s numbers were trending in the right direction before injury cut his 2014 season short. He might not walk enough to keep some folks happy, but Machado produces with what appears to be an Orioles model for success: high contact, low walk, high average and power to the gaps. Like Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, in other words. His age and still-developing body, coupled with what appears to be a full-time move to third base (thank you J.J. Hardy!), make it easy to be bullish on Machado’s ability to show off a little more power in 2015. With Machado, it’s all about value. His numbers over the last two years put him on a third base tier with Martin Prado, Chris Johnson, and Trevor Plouffe. But with youth on his side, Machado is capable of delivering much more than that group’s middling results. Staying on the field is the biggest hurdle for Machado to clear before he becomes one of the best third baseman in baseball. (Drew Fairservice)

Quick Opinion: Another season cut short by injury and spurts of great offense make Manny Machado a high risk, high reward player for 2015.

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2015 Batter Profiles: P – R

Jordan Pacheco

Debut: 2011 |  BirthDate: 1/30/1986 | Position: C/1B
’13 262 59 1 0 22 23 .239 .276 .312 .262 -15.8 -5.4 -1.5
’14 165 39 0 0 16 10 .255 .299 .333 .283 -8.1 -5.0 -0.9
’15 103 23 1 1 8 9 .242 .286 .333 .276 -3.7 -0.7 -0.2

Profile: The Rockies, one of the worst teams in baseball, gave up on Jordan Pacheco last season. Pacheco has a sliver of chance of working his way back up the majors, thanks in part to Arizona’s public refusal to sign a catcher. Even if he arrives, Pacheco’s game doesn’t transfer very well into fantasy. That’s pretty much all there is to say about that. (Landon Jones)

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