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Entries in Albert Pujols (17)

Wednesday
Mar202013

Hanley Ramirez to have MRI and more

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez could be sidelined for more than two months or maybe just two weeks because of an injured left thumb.

"They've painted both pictures, and it's a pretty big window," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday. "We're guessing."

Ramirez was hurt diving for a ball while playing third base Tuesday night in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic. He helped the Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico 3-0.

Source: ESPN.com

Yankees GM unsure if Jeter will be ready for opening day

"The Yankees are bracing for the possibility of an Opening Day without Derek Jeter, as the captain's availability is now in doubt after an anti-inflammatory cortisone injection was administered to his left ankle on Wednesday morning.

General manager Brian Cashman said that the stiffness and soreness Jeter is experiencing with his surgically repaired ankle is not a serious setback, but Jeter may need to begin the year on the disabled list with the club's April 1 opener approaching.

"I just can't rule it out," Cashman said. "We've got to do what's right for him. Whatever is right for him, it will be right for us."

Source: MLB.com

Doubront has talent, but has adjustments to make

"Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have a World Series championship and a no-hitter on their résumés. John Lackey has started a dozen playoff games in his career, and Ryan Dempster has thrown 200 or more innings seven times in his career.

But the most talented pitcher in the Red Sox rotation may be 25-year-old lefthander Felix Doubront, whose list of accomplishments would not take long to read.

After five seasons in the minors, Doubront had short stints with the Red Sox in 2010 and ’11 before earning a place in the rotation a year ago. He was 11-10 with a 4.86 earned run average, statistics that at face value were not particularly impressive."

Source: Boston.com

MLB sets sights on A-Rod, Braun

"Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers' All-Star outfielder, knows they are out there.

Everywhere he turns, everywhere he looks, they are there.

They are talking to his friends. They are talking to his peers. They are talking to his associates. They are scouring through paperwork. They keep digging.

They are the Major League Baseball investigators."

Source: USAtoday.com

Pujols won't let sore foot slow him down

"Albert Pujols is wearing custom orthotics for the first time in his career, and he has to spend a little extra time in the training room, but those are the only concessions the Angels first baseman has made for the plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

“I’ve had it for the last seven years; is that a problem?” Pujols said of the condition, which causes inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot and can be very painful when it flares up. “It’s one of those things that comes and goes.”

Pujols has been eased into action this spring as he recovers from last October’s surgery on his right knee — he played the field for the first time Tuesday — but Manager Mike Scioscia said Pujols’ knee hasn’t been as big a concern lately as the foot."

Source: LAtimes.com

Halladay trying to regain strength

"And the mystery continues.

Roy Halladay sat at his locker Tuesday morning, fresh off eating breakfast. He looked skinny. And, considering Halladay’s last three or so days, holding down breakfast might have been a big accomplishment.

Two days earlier, Halladay ignited a storm of worry by leaving his start after just one inning of work. Both the Phillies and Halladay said it was a stomach virus.

“I feel like I’m going in the right direction,” Halladay said. “Just bad timing for a setback.”

Source: Courierpostonline.com

Bud Norris to start Astros opener

"Bud Norris has been considered a “B”-level player his entire career. A good but not great pitcher; a solid athlete who’s never been a star.

Wednesday, the former second-tier pitcher was named the Astros’ opening-day starter.

Norris, 28, will take the mound next Sunday at 7 p.m. against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park in MLB’s 2013 season-opener. The game will be televised on ESPN.

The honor fulfills a childhood dream for Norris, who’s long wanted to be able to call himself an opening-day pitcher. When Norris joined the Astros in 2009, he asked Roy Oswalt what it was like to receive the ball on one of sports’ most memorable days. Now, Norris’ name will forever be attached to the Astros’ American League debut, and he’ll pitch before family and friends on national TV."

Source: Chron.com

Giants and Posey working on mega deal

"The Giants have quietly started contract talks with the goal of locking up young superstar catcher Buster Posey to a mega-deal.

Word is, there's a decent-sized gap at this point, though not enough of a gap that the team or Posey has given up trying. Posey surely would like to be a Giant for life if at all possible, and the Giants, run by very smart and deep-pocketed people, wouldn't be opposed to such an arrangement, either, if it can be accomplished.

The question is, how long?

And of course, for how much?

These are not easy questions since Posey is a once-in-a-generation type player who's won two World Series and an MVP award , and he is just starting out."

Source: Cbssportsline.com

Friday
Mar082013

Top 16 Fantasy Baseball First Basemen

Below are my pre-season top 16 first baseman rankings:

  1. Joey Votto, CIN
  2. Prince Fielder, MIL
  3. Albert Pujols, LAA
  4. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR
  5. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD
  6. Allen Craig, STL
  7. Billy Butler, KC
  8. Eric Hosmer, KC
  9. Ike Davis, NYM
  10. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
  11. Freddie Freeman, ATL
  12. Adam LaRoche, WSH
  13. Nick Swisher, CLE
  14. Mark Trumbo, LAA
  15. Anthony Rizzo, CHC
  16. Paul Konerko, CHW

Honorable mention: Garret Jones, Chris Davis, David Ortiz, Lance Berkman

Additional Information:

  1. There’s been a lot of concern from fantasy owners about Joey Votto's lack of power after missing nearly two months of the 2012 season with two knee surgeries. However, even though he missed two months of the season he still had a career high in doubles, which tells me he has more power than the 14 home runs he ended the year with. Also, he’s almost a shoe-in for a .310+ batting average, which allows more freedom with roster construction.
  2. I have one number for you: 160; that’s the average number of games Prince Fielder has averaged over his entire career. His power may no longer be elite; you may be surprised that he only hit 30 home runs last year; he’s never hurt and is one of the safest players in fantasy. Also, Victor Martinez replaces the free swinging Delmon Young in the fifth spot in the batting order, so Fielder could score 100+ runs.
  3. The slow start of Albert Pujols' 2012 season was well documented, but his return to being Albert Pujols in big capital letters went under the radar. It’s possible the cause of his slow start was due to pressing to impress his new team, but that doesn’t erase the fact his offensive numbers have been in decline the past three seasons. He had all-time lows in walk percentage, home runs, slugging and OPS in 2012 as well as striking more than ever did. Also, his AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS have dropped year over year for the past four seasons.
  4. Two years removed from wrist surgery and finally healthy, Edwin Encarnacion had a career year posting 42 home runs and 110 RBIs. Instead of hitting behind Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus, he’ll be hitting behind of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera in 2013. He had a career high in his HR/FB rate (24.5%) so it’s more likely he regresses to 32-35 home runs. Fantasy owners should expect 6 stolen bases; anything more is gravy.
  5. In an extremely small sample size (36 games) Adrian Gonzalez hit.297/.344/.441 for the Dodgers showing the MVP skill set was still there. It’s possible the discomfort in his surgically-repaired shoulder was the culprit for the lack of power last year; he posted a career low HR/FB rate of 12.2%. If he slips to the end of the fourth round of drafts I will gladly take the upside.
  6. The biggest question about Allen Craig has never been about his skill set, but about his ability to play a full season. In the last two seasons he’s only totaled 773 plate appearances. With those appearances he’s been extremely productive; his .532 SLG the past two years ranks him 14th among hitters with 700+ plate appearances. Craig enters the year as the full time first baseman, which should give him a better opportunity to stay healthy. 
  7. Like Prince Fielder, Billy Butler has been very healthy his entire career, averaging 159 games played the past four years. It should be noted that he only played 20 games at first last season, as he is primarily a DH. His HR/FB rate of 20.6% is probably unsustainable, but during the second half of the 2011 season Butler began swinging at more pitches and becoming more aggressive at the plate. The trend continued in 2012 as he set career highs in home runs and RBI. He’s entering his prime and could be in line for breakout in 2013. 
  8. Prior to his rookie debut in 2010, every scout and publication hailed Eric Hosmer as the next super star. After a solid rookie year, the hype around him before 2012 drafts were immense, so large that he was the 53rd player taken off the board in ESPN leagues. In 2013, he should reach his level. Draft him as a first baseman whose floor is a .280 batting average, 20 home runs, 80+/80+ (RBI/runs) with double digit steals.
  9. Ike Davis' low batting average was the result of an extremely low .246 BABIP and his inability to hit left handed pitching. For his career, his slash line against lefties is .217/.281/.361. What’s more discouraging is his walk rate has decreased for the third year in a row. However, what’s encouraging is his ground ball rate has decreased during the past three years as well. Since he strikes out 20% of the time, the batting average will be BABIP dependent; I believe he turns into a great fantasy sleeper; hitting .255, 29-35 home runs with 90+/90+ (RBI/runs).
  10. Most of Paul Goldschmidt's fantasy value came from (surprisingly) his 18 SBs. He’s a well below average runner (30-35 on the 20-80 scouting scale) and I can’t see him coming close to the 18 again. If he doesn’t steal 18 bases, he’s more a top 20 than a top 10 first baseman. Power is necessary when drafting a first baseman; I’ll be surprised if he hits more than 25 home runs, which puts him at a disadvantage amongst his colleagues. Goldschmidt’s value is team dependent; he’s a great fit for teams already with a lot of power, but he’s a poor fit if he’s on a team devoid of power.
  11. In 2012, despite a lower batting average, Freddie Freeman’s slugging and walk percentages increased, which tells me he’s making the necessary adjustments to become a better hitter. His plate coverage and bat speed points to a .300 batting average. Fantasy owners expecting 28+ home runs will be disappointed, but 25 is certainly reasonable.
  12. Prior to the 2011 season Adam LaRoche was the fantasy version of an old Toyota; not sexy, consistent and predictable. However, a shoulder injury put him out for 75% of the season. In 2012, he rewarded fantasy owners with career highs in home runs. His 21.8% HR/FB rate should come back down to his career average of 18%, but that will only take away couple of home runs. He’s expected to bat cleanup so another year of 25 home runs, 95+ RBI with a .265+ batting average is almost as good as money in the bank.
  13. Nick Swisher is a very consistent and underrated hitter who has avoided major injuries. A slight decline in power is expected as he’s leaving one of the best ballparks for power to an average ballpark in Cleveland. In the past three seasons 80% of his power came while batting left-handed. Cleveland’s ballpark is seventh best ballpark for left-handed hitters, compared to Yankee Stadium ranking second. He’s not a sexy player, but he can definitely help your fantasy team.
  14. After the Angels traded Kendrys Morales for Jason Vargas, Mark Trumbo became the full time DH and will bat fifth behind Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Trumbo’s season was a tale of two halves. The first half his slash line was .302/.358/.608 and his second half slash line was .227/.271/.359. He has the raw power, but a poor approach (striking out 26% of the time) will limit the potential for batting average. On the bright side his walk percentage increased two percentage points, showing he’s making some adjustments to his approach. He would be the perfect complement to a Eric Hosmer or a Paul Goldschmidt.
  15. During his first partial season in the majors (with the San Diego Padres) Anthony Rizzo clearly looked overmatched and it showed, striking out 30% of the time. He was acquired by the Cubs  in January 2012 and started the season in Triple-A. He made a number of adjustments, specifically reducing the length in his swing, reducing his strike out rate 44% and increased contact his contact rate 17.5%. His fantasy potential is immense, but he has a long way to go before reaching that potential.
  16. For the first time in three seasons Paul Konerko posted an OPS less than .900. His low ranking is not a function of declining skill set, but more of a concern of the player who bats in front of him in the order: Adam Dunn. Dunn is a three-outcome player; he either walks, strikes out or hits a home run. A player like Dunn limits Konerko’s ability to drive in runs. Among all players with at least 300 at-bats, Konerko ranked 60th in plate appearances with runners on base, one spot ahead of Jeff Francouer. I’ve had Konerko every year for the past three seasons, but this year he won’t be on any of my teams because the upside is no longer there.

Overall Draft Strategy

For the first time in a long time the gap between the top three and the 10th first baseman is not that wide. With home runs becoming even more of a premium, first base is a position where fantasy owners must get that power. Other than Fielder, every player in the top 5 has huge question marks; that is why I recommend waiting until the middle rounds to get your first baseman.

Tuesday
Jan082013

The Fantasy Baseball Diary: Allen Craig

21:45 PST

 After a day of writing and talking with my editor, Bill Chuck, I was going to reward myself by watching an episode of White Collar. Instead I’ve decided to show a lot of #want (a baseball scouting term to describe the manifestation of human desire and physical yield) and stay at my computer and begin the process of writing my inaugural article for BaseballAnalytics.org.

22:00 PST

As I began typing, a song from the first Zutons record started playing on my winamp player. For some reason I thought of my ex-girlfriend from college who gave me said record. I haven’t thought about her in years. Out of curiosity I looked her up on Facebook. Big mistake. She didn’t look so hot. She looked nice, but not to the degree as I remembered. As for me, I’ve ascended up the food chain of attractiveness. I’m in the best shape of my life, giving me a fit body and thus, affording me the luxury to avoid brands like Gap and wear non-generic clothing cuts. I’m a tertiary consumer. Things are looking up.

22:02 PST

Stopped procrastinating.

Take a look at these heat maps from the 2012. Which one do you think belongs to Albert Pujols?

If you guessed Player B, you guessed incorrectly. If the title of this piece didn’t already give it away, Player B is Allen Craig. The heat maps may look similar, but Craig actually has more plate coverage and a better ability to hit the ball to all fields than Pujols.

During the first two months of the 2012 season, Craig was put on the DL twice for various injuries. The first DL stint, which lasted all of April, was for November 2011 surgery on his knee. The second DL stint was for a left hamstring strain. In 2011, groin and knee injuries cost him almost half of the 2011 season. The past four years, he’s averaged 116.5 games played so there’s a lot of risk for fantasy owners counting on a breakthrough year.

But what if Craig does have a breakthrough year? What can fantasy owners expect?

In the last two seasons he’s only totaled 773 plate appearances. With those appearances he’s been extremely productive. His .532 SLG the past two years ranks him 14th among hitters with at least 700 plate appearances.

The table provides a projection of the production he could provide if he receives 660 plate appearances. His numbers may not look overtly impressive, but in the last ten years only four players have been able to hit at least 30 homers, 98 runs, 119 RBI with a .309 AVG. The four players are: Albert Pujols in 2003, Gary Sheffield in 2003, Matt Kemp in 2011 and Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Craig enters the 2013 season as the full-time first baseman, which should give him a better opportunity to stay healthy. He qualifies at first base and outfield so if he does go down with an injury, fantasy owners will have a bigger pool of players to find his replacement. Every year there’s always one top ten player who comes off a “down” year, gets drafted around the fifth round and gives their owners a championship. In 2011, it was Matt Kemp. In 2012, it was Josh Hamilton.

According to the latest expert draft at Mock Draft Central, Craig went #52, right after Jimmy Rollins and just before Cole Hamels. If you can get him in the fifth, sixth round, you could have the best bargain on draft day.

23:48 PST

I emailed my ex- on Facebook.