Showing posts with label Alcides Escobar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alcides Escobar. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Dangers of Skimming in Unfamiliar Territory

I hope you had a great Holiday Season. Time to get back to work. Only six weeks until spring training!

There are different classes of fantasy sports enthusiasts. That isn't meant to belittle anyone but nevertheless I believe it to be true. One of the more common classes I like to call skimmers. The fans in this class recognize that new fantasy strategies and projecting techniques emerge everyday thanks to the great work of the sabermetrics-minded crowds at sites like fangraphs and the hardball times. They buy the latest edition of Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and Baseball Prospectus 2011 and believe they are developing an edge. But they aren't because they are at heart, skimmers.

Now, for most of the internet skimming is okay. In fact, for most of the junk on the internet skimming is recommended. Once you know that Britney Spears isn't wearing panties the rest of the story lacks importance. Am I wrong? But when we skim the articles at the saber sites we come away swinging unqualified statements like "extremely high or low BABIP numbers are always an indication of luck" or "ERA is a meaningless stat." I'm sure some of you can name a dozen more.

This kind of thinking will cause you to miss out on potentially useful players. In some leagues you might have avoided Jon Garland coming into the 2010 season based on a lousy 4.8 K9 and a 4.68 xFIP. But strikeouts accumulate and pitching in Petco was almost certain to improve his ERA. Those that took a chance lucked into not just a 3.47 ERA but also slightly better strikeouts stats as Garland posted 6.12 K9 last season. Garland may not be a great pitcher but in the right ballpark he can post a decent ERA. In most leagues ERA is the category that counts, not FIP or tERA.

Players do not have to be great or even good by modern evaluation standards to be very useful, even great fantasy players. In the last few weeks I've read a hundred different writers trash shortstop Alcides Escobar. They point out his lack of power and the fact that he doesn't walk much as his weaknesses but they fail to speak to his strengths. Escobar is an excellent contact hitter and a superior base stealer. Facts are his walk rate is improving and hitting near the top of the Royals lineup will probably be much more comfortable for him.

I spoke to a friend about Escobar last night. I said the Brewers made a mistake last season (I may have said it more colorfully) not allowing Escobar to run at will when he reached base. My friend quipped about his lack of on-base skills. I told him that the worst thing you can do to young players is to make them change their offensive style when they aren't ready. Especially the ones with an Escobar-like profile, they start trying to hit doubles, triples and homers because they know that they have a permanent Red Light.

So be certain you're getting the whole story and not skimming past the part that might reveal hidden fantasy baseball gold.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Royals Trade Zack Greinke to Milwaukee

This Hot Stove season has been everything a baseball fan could hope.

UPDATE: Word is that Jeremy Jeffress is not in the deal and that a PTBNL is the fourth part of the Royals' return package.

UPDATE 2: But that word is wrong and Jeffress is headed to Kansas City.

Last night the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers agreed on a trade that will send ace starter Zack Greinke and much maligned shortstop Yuneisky Betancourt to Milwaukee for young center fielder Lorenzo Cain, speedy shortstop Alcides Escobar and two top pitching prospects: Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress.

Wow, is the word that comes to mind. Though I imagine the few remaining Royals fans are thinking in less family friendly terms. The deal actually isn't too bad. It may actually be the best deal Dayton Moore has made.

Lorenzo Cain was a favorite to unseat Carlos Gomez as the starting center fielder in Milwaukee in the upcoming season. Cain has above average, maybe even great speed. He is definitely a quality basestealer. He has very little homerun power right now. However, he has shown that he has the patience to draw walks and has shown signs that he knows what he is doing at the plate. If he continues to develop he should be the Royals' best option as leadoff hitter.

Alcides Escobar was supposed to become one of the stolen base leaders in the National League. Unfortunately he failed to hit as expected in 2010 and found himself with a manager who was not a fan of the stolen base. I was actually looking forward to watching Escobar rebound this season under new manager Ron Roenicke. Escobar doesn't walk much which hurts his on-base percentage and he swings at a ton of pitches out of the strike zone. He does make good contact and has fantastic speed so he still has a great chance to contribute to a fantasy team.

Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress were the Brewers best pitching prospects. Ordorizzi is a potential ace starter which awesome stuff. He has a great fastball and a variety of quality pitches to complement it. He had a nice 10.07 K9 last season in the minors and a very decent 46 percent groundball rate. He is the real deal. Jeffress throws the ball with triple digit velocity and has been compared to Dwight Gooden very frequently. He has an other worldly strikeout rate but struggles to gain even decent control. Many analyst believe that he will eventually move to the bullpen and become a top closer.

The Brewers have just about emptied their farm system between the Greinke and Marcum deals but have put together what is likely a top five starting rotation. The Brewers had one of the better offenses in the National League last season so they should be a much improved team. Greinke will love pitching in the National League because he will get to hit (something he never wanted to stop doing) and he will finally get to pitch in meaningful games. Greinke joins Marcum at the top of NL-only wish lists.

The 2011 season is going to be a ton of fun.