Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fantasy Focus: Shortstop Rankings

There is a lot potential value at the shortstop position this year, but the risk is high from the top of the list to the bottom.  Let's check out what's available:

1.  Ian Desmond, Nationals.  72 R, 25 HR, 73 RBI, .292 BA, 21 SB in 513 AB.  I have Desmond at #1 while a lot of lists have him in the 6,7 range.  Some analysts don't like his K and BB ratios  and question the repeatability of this performance.  It's healthy to be skeptical, but I don't believe the risk is greater than Troy Tulowitzki's health.

2. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies.  33 R, 8 HR, 27 RBI, .287 BA, 2 SB in 181 AB.  TMT(Two Month Tulo) would be a clear #1 if you could count on him to stay healthy. Many fantasy owners will still bet that he will.

3.  Jose Reyes, Blue Jays.  86 R, 11 HR, 57 RBI, .287 BA, 40 SB in 642 AB.  Reyes is coming off a healthy season in which he may have modestly underperformed.  He will have a high price because some owners overvalue SB's.  The move to Toronto could boost his power into the higher double digits to boost.  Past injuries continue to lurk in the background.

4.  Starlin Castro, Cubs.  78 R, 14 HR, 78 RBI, .283 BA, 25 SB's in 646 AB.  Owners who believe Castro is still on the steep upward part of his career trajectory will be willing to pay a high price.  They may be right.

5.  Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers.  79 R, 24 HR, 92 RBI, .257 BA, 21 SB in 604 AB.  This is really not a bad line, BA excepted.  Ramirez is a guy whose fantasy rep may have taken enough of a hit to make him a bargain on draft day.

6.  Jimmy Rollins, Phillies.  102 R, 23 HR, 68 RBI, .250 BA, 30 SB in 632 AB.  The BA is a bit ugly, but solid, even elite production in other categories. How long can he keep doing it?

7.  Ben Zobrist, Rays.  88 R, 20 HR, 74 RBI, .270 BA, 14 SB in 560 AB.   Zobrist has the added allure of multiple position eligibility and he's a guy you can count on to deliver solid, if unspectacular value in 5 categories.

8.  Derek Jeter, Yankees.  99 R, 15 HR, 58 RBI, .316 BA, 9 SB in 683 AB.  Jeter is the Energizer Bunny.  When is the battery going to die?

9.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians.  70 R, 16 HR, 68 RBI, .270 BA, 9 SB in 555 AB.  Solid numbers but don't pay too much!

10.  Alcides Escobar, Royals.  68 R, 5 HR, 52 RBI, .293 BA, 35 SB in 605 AB.  Escobar went undrafted and unclaimed in my 10 team league last year.  Very nice option to boost your SB's late in a draft.  I'll let him go if he gets bid up much higher than $2-3 though.

11.  Elvis Andrus, Rangers.  85 R, 3 HR, 62 RBI, .286 BA, 21 SB in 629 AB.  Someone in your league will pay a lot for Elvis Andrus and it will be a mistake.  Virtually equal or better value is available at bargain basement prices.

12.  Zack Cozart, Reds.  72 R, 15 HR, 35 RBI, .244 BA, 4 SB in 561 AB.  I expect these numbers to improve in 2013 with 20+ dingers a real possibility.  

13.  Erick Aybar, Angels.  67 R, 8 HR, 45 RBI, .290 BA, 20 SB in 517 AB.  Very cheap source of steals while protecting your BA.  Angels fans may overpay for him.

14.  Marco Scutaro, Giants.  87 R, 7 HR, 74 RBI, .306 BA, 9 SB in 620 AB.  A little light on HR's and SB's, but won't hurt your BA R or RBI.  Eligibility at 2B and 3B but most owners will want to use him at either SS or 2B.  

15.  Jean Segura, Brewers.  19 R, 0 HR, 14 RBI, .258 BA, 7 SB in 131 AB.  Segura looks to be a lock to start at SS for the Brewers from the get-go.  Some potential to fall flat on his face, but if he sticks should end up with at least 25-30 SB's.

16.  Andrelton Simmons, Braves.  17 R, 3 HR, 19 RBI, .289 BA, 1 SB in 166 AB.  Manager Fredi Gonzalez proclaimed that he has penciled Simmons into the leadoff spot in a goosed up Braves lineup.  Given his minor league record, if Simmons can get on base at a .335 clip from this position, he will score a ton of runs and get close to 20 SB's.

17.  Josh Rutledge, Rockies.  37 R, 8 HR, 37 RBI, .274, 7 SB's in 277 AB's.  Rutledge will likely move to 2B if TMT(Two Month Tulo) stays healthy, but will have SS eligibility in most leagues.  The whole Rockies IF situation is a bit crowded and a bit fluid so I'm not convinced he can be counted on for 600 AB's.

18.  Jed Lowrie, Astros.  43 R, 16 HR, 42 RBI, .244 BA, 2 SB's in 340 AB.  Lowrie has never been able to stay healthy a full season, but if you want to take a chance at the end of the draft, the payoff could be nice if he finally pulls it off.

19.  Everth Cabrera, Padres.  49 R, 2 HR, 24 RBI, .246 BA, 44 SB's! in 398 AB.  A lot of owners will look at the SB's and pay a high price.  You can't steal 1B, and Cabrera is not a lock to hang onto the starting job.

Sleeper Watch:  Brandon Crawford.  Call me crazy but Crawford grew a lot last year and was a very tough out by the postseason. Just ask Lance Lynn!

Rookie Watch:  Didi Gregorius, D'Backs.  D'Backs are stockpiling young SS's so it's anybody's guess what they have in mind, but Gregorius appears to be first in line.

Again, if you are willing to pay a price to get a top SS, there is the possibility of great reward.  Personally, I'm going to go stars and scrubs and go bottom fishing for my SS.


  1. Doc, aren't you worried that other owners in your phant league read your blog? You give us all the insight into your strategy, you could be shooting yourself in the foot...

    1. I can always change strategy if I have to. I always go into a draft with a plan and at least one backup plan and it usually ends up nothing like either one. Last year was the first time my league had an auction draft. I ended up winning the championship in the end, but one thing I learned was spending in the $10-15 range for the likes of Dee Gordon, Dustin Ackley, Matt Wieters and Brian Wilson did me no good in the end. I would have been better off to take $30 of that and use it at the top of the draft for an extra $40 player or 2. I'm planning to be much more aggressive in price enforcement for the elite players this year. No way am I letting Miggy Cabrera go for $38 again!

      On the other hand, I was sorry I did not bid Matt Kemp up to $50 and look what happened to him. No matter what you do, it can come back to bite you.

  2. BTW, Shankbone,

    Check out a gushy article about Addison Russell over at Fake Teams. A's are inviting him to big league camp this spring before he's played a full season in the minor....out of high school! That's how much they love him. He was long gone by the time the Giants got a chance to draft, but it looks like you had him pegged. I think he was your fave prospect in the draft, was he not?

    1. Billie beane picked a good time to switch up strategy methinks. Yeah, I ended up liking Russell the most. For HS guys at our 20 pick it was him and Ty Hensley. I also liked Alex Bregman a bunch. Pretty happy with Stratton though. It looks like the Giants got a similar player to richie Schaffer almost 100 picks past the pick, that is nice value with Mac Williamson. And I really liked Agosta from the beginning of the process.

      My mistake was getting too hopped up on yoots and not paying enough attention to the budget limitations. A thorough review of what teams paid out clarified things a bunch. I think you have to view high draft picks as the bullets or big shots you get at the best talent and the following picks as flyers. The cutoff really is the top 200 of the draft, around the 6th round. My draft grade analysis needs some tweekin'... Our 2nd rounder will come 20 picks earlier this year and the third round is right around the 100th pick. That will expand the budget some, but one main point is the Gints will have about 1/3rd the budget of the high pick teams. It really needs to be emphasized.

    2. You got that exactly right regarding the value of the first round pick versus any subsequent pick, Shankbone. Even for the Giants back of the first round picks when contending, those are 3-5 times more likely to become a good player than any of the other picks following (unless they get a good supplemental pick). When you are talking a top 10 pick overall, as they had when they were losing, that's 10-20 times greater odds there.

      That was my point when I got into that extended, um, "discussion" at MCC over the last draft, that to grind so hard to improve your picks in the latter rounds is not really worth the bother. To me, it's like that whole "extra 2%" book on the Rays. Improving your chances from, say, 1% to 1.02%, is not really worth the effort, in my opinion. And really, beyond the 2nd round last season, I can pretty much assure you that it is lower than 1% chance. It's like trying to pan for gold near Sutter Mill today vs. 150 years ago: you most likely are not going to get rich mining there. But to your point, you should still try because in baseball, you need to, as they say a lot about Bochy's offensive philosophy, keep the line moving.

      But while one should not punt picks, I think working so hard to improve your odds there is not worth the effort. I think the Giants did many multiples more help to their prospecting efforts with their pickups in the International Free Agency phase, of Gustavo and Nathanael, than if they had worked the draft hard like the MCC crowd insisted that they do. I understand wanting your team to do all that they can to win (by finding young talent), but there is a point where the marginal rate of return goes way down, and working the draft to find a high school player in the 10th round is up there on my scale, of things that are not worth the trouble. I would rather they spend that effort and money towards finding a nice Asian (most likely Japanese) player who could contribute to the team, since even the Latin American signings are capped now (say, does that number limit Asian signings as well? How about the Cubans? I was under the impression that the cap covered only Latin players, but now I realize that maybe the Asians are included too)

      Nobody liked my message, but that's the truth of the research I had done before, and intuitively, after seeing so many rounds of draft results there at, I know that to be true. FYI, I tried to share my big picture business plan with some Astro's fans on THT and got strung up there as well, am I really that difficult to understand or appreciate? Or are people just mean?

    3. 6 rounds seems about right, at least the way the draft was run previously. I have to think that the new CBA will changes things greatly as teams get settled into their new draft routine, that less good talent will fall so far in the draft and get drafted: either a team would have identified those who fell but that they could still sign and pick him, or no team will be able to afford him because no team really have that much leeway to bump up their bonus without penalty. The Giants could only go up $200K before losing a pick as penalty. BA just came out with their estimated 2013 slots, based on 2012 values and 2013 draft positioning ( and the Astros are on top again, and can roughly go $500K above before losing a pick, which is not enough to get a really good prospect in the later rounds.

      But as I noted before, I view the shuffling of bonuses to just be a case of zero sum budgeting and detrimental to finding good prospects. By saving $2M+ on Correa, they could afford to get better prospects later, but doesn't that also mean that they got a player in Correa who is not as good as a prospect who would have gotten $2M more? Of course, if you don't view anyone in the draft of being worthy of the extra money, then it would behoove you to save on the first pick, but saving $2M to, say, not sign Buster Posey, in order to get, say, Justin Smoak, to give a recent, rough, example, is not necessarily a good thing.

      And as I noted, someone who is a Top 5 pick is much more likely to be a good player than, say, picks 6-20, about double the odds, so I view it as more like playing Russian Roulette with bullets in 5 chambers, not one, as that top pick is much more likely to be good, but instead you spread the risk between two players that together probably do not add up to the same odds of finding a good player as having that one player. Using my Astros example, a Top 5 player had odds of roughly 45% of becoming a good player, but instead they traded down to Correa, who BA ranked #6, and eventually got McCullers, who was ranked #13, and they roughly had odds of 20%, so instead of one player at 45% odds of becoming good, they end up with two players at 20% odds (or 40% total) of becoming good (though the bonus there is that if you hit on both, you end up with two good players, so there is that).

      The good news for the Giants, to me, is that if you get enough teams playing this game of trading down to save bonus for later picks, then better caliber prospects will fall to whatever spot the Giants end up with in the first round. When the Giants picked in 2012, they had 4 prospects ranked higher than their pick still available, Stroman 10th, McCuller 13th, Marrero 14th, and Stratton 18th. Of course, the Giants like to go there own way on this, so they most likely had a much different ranking than BA, but still BA's ranking is the one that is easily available.

    4. Personally, I think the length of the baseball draft is ridiculous even at 40 rounds. The Giants were not the only team that essentially punted the last 5 picks. In fact, the new slot bonus rules make the draft unnecessary at all.

      Why not just give everybody a budget weighted to last year's W-L records with a bonus for the small market teams and then let them sign whoever they want/can?

    5. Even carving 20% off really didn't do much, less than 50% of the 31-40 rounders signed. I can't remember the exact # on the giants board but it was in the 800s as I recall. I think taking it to 30 rounds is the next logical step, get 900 players instead of the previous 1500 or so.

      There is a draft article about the new cba linked in minorleagueball, talking about the average value of those slots. Didn't see any calculation on busts.