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Entries in jose Reyes (2)

Saturday
Feb232013

Top 16 Fantasy Baseball Shortstops

Below are my pre-season top 16 shortstop rankings: 

  1. Troy Tulowitzki, COL
  2. Jose Reyes, TOR
  3. Hanley Ramirez, LAD
  4. Starlin Castro, CHC
  5. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
  6. Ben Zobrist, TB*
  7. Elvis Andrus, TEX
  8. Everth Cabrera, SD
  9. Ian Desmond, WSH
  10. Jimmy Rollins, PHI
  11. Alexei Ramirez, CHW
  12. Josh Rutledge, COL
  13. J.J. Hardy, BAL
  14. Danny Espinosa, WSH
  15. Jed Lowrie, OAK
  16. Alcides Escobar, KC

Honorable mention: Jean Segura, Yunel Escobar, Jhonny Peralta

Additional Information:

  1. With an average draft position of 6.7 in ESPN leagues last year, Tulowitzki was one of the biggest fantasy disappointments, playing in only 47 games due to elbow and groin injuries. The 30 home runs and .300+ batting average are still there, but 20+ stolen bases are no longer realistic. The biggest question about Tulowitzki is durability, only averaging 134 games the past five seasons prior to 2012. 
  2. 2012 marked the first time in three seasons Reyes was able to play a full year, playing in 160 games. His power upside is no longer in the 20s, but, instead, is now in the mid-teens. His stolen bases are no longer in the 60s, but in the 40s. He’ll bat leadoff for one of the best offenses in the game so expecting 115+ runs isn’t crazy.
  3. Ramirez provides 20/20 upside at a premium position and just came off a season where he played the second most games in his career. However, the .300+ batting average and 50+ stolen bases he used to provide are long gone; if he continues to strike out 20% of the time, be happy with a .260 batting average.
  4. Castro’s home run and stolen base totals have increased year over year since he’s been in majors. The biggest question is will his home run and stolen base totals continue to increase? If he can improve his stolen base success rate, he may give fantasy owners the same fantasy value of Jose Reyes.
  5. Even though Asdrubal Cabrera had a down year he was playing through various nagging injuries during the second half of the year. With Terry Francona joining the Indians in the off-season I wouldn’t be surprised if Cabrera is hitting in the middle of a surprising revamped offense and could quietly provide 20 home runs with 90+ RBI with a .270 batting average.
  6. Zobrist’s greatest value is his versatility, qualifying at shortstop, second base and outfield. Last season, not only did his stolen bases drop dramatically, but his stolen base success rate was only 61%; the days of 20 stolen bases are gone.
  7. Andrus’ batting average, OBP and SLG have increased year over year the past three years. With the loss of Josh Hamilton and his power production, the Rangers may be inclined to run more. I still believe in his 40+ stolen base potential.
  8. Even though Everth Cabrera only received 398 ABs in the majors, Cabrera finished third in the league with 44 stolen bases. He struck out nearly 25% of the time so his .246 batting average could be hard to repeat. If he plays a full season he has the opportunity to win you a category; he’s on a team that had the most stolen base attempts in the league last year.
  9. Desmond has 20/20 potential which is great, but he could be a batting average risk. Before last year his career batting average was .262, 30 points lower than the .292 average he put up last year. I don't trust guys who strikeout more than 20% of the time to maintain an abnormally high batting averages. He’ll continue to strikeout a lot so expect a .265 average with 14-18 home runs and 20 stolen bases. 
  10. I thought the 2012 season would be the start of Rollins’ decline, but I was proved wrong. His power numbers were aided a five year high in his HR/FB rate (15.6%). His strikeout percentage increased five percentage points compared to the last six seasons. The steals may taper off, but I don’t foresee a massive drop-off. 
  11. In 2012 Ramirez had a career high in stolen bases and a career low in home runs. The power outage could be due to an extremely low in HR/FB rate (6.6%). He’s an extremely reliable fantasy player who can easily provide 15/15 production. If he can increase the walk totals to his pre-2011 levels, he could steal 25+ stolen bases.
  12. Rutledge leaped from Double-A to the major leagues last year, hitting .274/.306/.469 with 8 home runs and 7 stolen bases. There are two reasons why I like him: A) he plays in Coors, which added 20 points to his batting average. B) his swing, which is short and simple, will allow him to make consistent contact at home and on the road. He’ll provide small contributions with the power but he’ll provide a nice average with 15+ stolen bases.
  13. In 2011 Hardy saw a career high in his HR/FB rate, which, not surprisingly, lead to a career high in home runs. Last year Hardy came back down to earth, hitting only 22 home runs with a .238 batting average. The 2012 season is more representational of Hardy’s fantasy value than 2011. Prepare for a .240 batting average and be delighted if he can hit .265.
  14. Espinosa loves to swing the bat and has a poor approach. Therefore it’s no surprise he strikes out a lot; last year was he had the highest strikeout percentage in his career (28.7%). His batting average could become a bigger liability in 2013, limiting his fantasy upside. However, he provides legit 20/20 upside and that’s hard to find. Also, he tore his left rotator cuff at the beginning of September and has decided to play with the injury instead of getting surgery.
  15. Lowrie has never played in more than 100 games. Last year, he missed two months of the season because of a freak injury suffered at a collision at second base. If he can play a full year, and that’s a big if, he could hit 20+ home runs.
  16. Entering the 2012 season Escobar was seen as a glove only shortstop, but he turned in one of the best fantasy seasons for shortstops. His primary asset is his stolen bases. His ability to steal bases is dependent on him getting on base. His .293 batting average could be a result of a high BABIP, which could lead to a regression to his batting average, which could lower his OBP. If his OBP decreases, his stolen base upside will be limited. 

Overall Draft Strategy

Other than Hanley Ramirez, Starlin Castro and Ben Zobrist there are huge question marks surrounding every player. Can Tulowitzki, Reyes and Lowrie get 580+ plate appearances? Can Hardy, Ramirez and Asdrubal Cabrera bounce back? You may be wondering why Derek Jeter is not on the list despite being the 3rd best fantasy shortstop last year. I’m concerned about his age and how good he'll be after recovering from a fractured ankle he suffered in Game 1 of the ALCS. 

Monday
Dec052011

Reyes Gets Six Years, $106M from Fish

SEC wrangling about stadium financing and long history of cobbling together a club on a couch coin budget aside, the Miami Marlins proved they were serious about significantly boosting payroll by signing shortstop Jose Reyes to a six-year, $106 million deal with an option for 2017 that could increase the total financial commitment to $120 million.

To be sure, signing Reyes through at least age 34 is fraught with risk. He has suffered from chronic hamstring problems dating back to his early twenties, including DL stints for the issue in 2004, 2009 and 2011. The 28-year-old has played 295 games out of a possible 486 over the past three seasons, or about 61 percent.

But it's also true that Reyes is a true franchise player when he's on the field. The switch-hitter has a .306 average, a .352 OBP and a .452 slugging percentage since '09, with a .355 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) bested only by Troy Tulowitzki (.396) and Hanley Ramirez (.374) among shortstops. Reyes' bat has been about 16 percent better than those of his shortstop peers (.306 wOBA), making him immensely valuable even though advanced defensive metrics suggest he's not covering as much ground in the field as he once did.

Reyes likely won't maintain his career-best .386 wOBA in 2011, which was largely the result of a 40 point boost in batting average on balls in play (.353 BABIP last year, .314 career). But he did improve his already-stellar contact ability, cutting his strikeout rate to seven percent from 10.7 percent in 2009-2010. The reason? Better plate coverage against "soft" stuff -- curveballs, sliders and changeups. That was especially the case on breaking and off-speed pitches thrown inside:

Reyes' contact rate vs. "Soft" stuff, 2009-2010

Reyes' contact rate vs. "Soft" stuff, 2011Reyes swung and missed  25.5 percent of the time against soft stuff from 2009-2010, but just 17.3 percent in 2011. On soft stuff thrown inside, his miss percentage dropped to 21 percent from 30 percent. With fewer whiffs, his wOBA versus soft stuff improved to .308 from .245 (the MLB average is .273).

Given Reyes' history of leg injuries and time missed, it would be quixotic to think he is going to be a 140-150 game-a-year shortstop as he soon exits his twenties. But, as Fangraphs' Dave Cameron points out, Reyes' contract basically values him as a star-level player who will appear in 110-120 games per year. Plus, research by Tom Tango indicates that speed players like Reyes tend to age better than the general baseball population.

Cameron estimated that, adjusting for inflation, Reyes would need to post around 19 Wins Above Replacement over the next six years to make good on his contract. How likely is that? To get a rough idea of how Reyes could age, I turned to Baseball-Reference's Similarity Scores. Here are his most statistically similar players through age 28, as well as their performance from age 29-34. Rollins and Furcal haven't reached 34 yet, so I substituted projections from The Hardball Times' Oliver forecasting system:

Sources: Baseball-Reference, The Hardball Times

*= Oliver Projections from Brian Cartwright's projection system at THT

These six middle infielders averaged 4.1 WAR at age 29, 2.6 WAR at age 30, 2.5 WAR at age 31, and 4.2 WAR at age 32. With the Oliver projections for Rollins and Furcal included, they average 1.7 WAR at age 33 and 0.7 WAR at age 34. So overall, that's an average of 16 WAR during ages 29 to 34, with star-level performances from Trammell and Sandberg, average to above-average work from Rollins and Furcal, and something less than that from Templeton and Fernandez. There's plenty of variance here, but history suggests 15-20 WAR during the life of Reyes' contract is reasonable.

Reyes' signing also means that Hanley Ramirez must find a new position. Few shortstops have rated as poorly as Ramirez -- he's been about seven runs worse per 150 games than an average player at the position over the past three seasons, per UZR -- but he could fare better at third base. The Fans rate his arm as strong, if not exactly accurate, and Fielding Bible Plus/Minus Data indicates that most of his defensive woes come on balls hit to his right. That would likely make Matt Dominguez's standout glove and questionable bat trade bait.

Obviously, no $100+ million contract comes without significant risk. Reyes could go bust in South Beach, betrayed by his aching hamstrings or forced to move down the defensive spectrum. But Miami seems to have at least in part accounted for Reyes' dubious health history in this deal, and other comparable Expansion-Era middle infielders have produced at a level necessary from age 29-34 to make Reyes' pact look like a market-value deal with some upside.