So the first month of baseball is technically over, but because the season started so late the first month hasn’t really finished yet. I looked into some players off to great starts to the season and I used fangraphs for all the stats mentioned in my post.
Nelson Cruz – Well it’s official, I was dead wrong on Cruz. Seattle is where hitters go to die! Cano couldn’t even get to 15 HRs last year and Cruz moving from the hitter friendly Camden Yards to Safeco was supposed to reduce his power, not increase it! He’s hitting fly balls 14% more than last year and his ground ball rate is down by 8%, so the spike in HRs makes sense. Those rates usually don’t stabilize until ~170 PAs and he’s only half way to that mark. His HR/FB is high, but if he can keep generating this many FBs then he might even eclipse last years 40 HRs…he only needs 30 more to go. His walk and strikeout rates look right around career average and he’s swinging a little less outside the strike zone while increasing his contact rate. His age, injury history, and home park gave me concern going into the season, but the stats show there’s little to dislike.
Part III of frugal fantasy baseball 2015 goes over some underpriced OFs. I’ll still be using the Fantasy Pros average rankings, with Yahoo! and ESPN rankings given precedence over the others, but since most of drafts will be over by now I’ll only recommend guys that should be on the waivers, obviously depending on how competitive and deep the league is many of these recommendations will be owned already.
It’s the strongest and most diverse group of fantasy players in the game. If you need power, check the OF. If you need speed, check the OF. If you need a UTL player, check the OF…or 1B. You could draft 3 OFs with your first picks and no one would bat an eye, but do that with any other position and you might be crazy. It’s also one of the deepest positions and every year undrafted guys like Corey Dickerson and JD Martinez break out and finish among the top of their position. My goal here is to try and find some players that could break out, but more realistically I’ll help identify some underrated hitters.
23. Oakland Athletics
I have no idea how to rank this team. They had the highest run differential in 2014 but only went 29-38 after the half and stumbled into a wildcard game with the miraculous Royals. They probably should have won that game and could very well have went to the World Series, but they didn’t. And now we’re having this conversation. Cespedes, Donaldson, Moss, Norris, Lowrie (the duo of Lawrie and Lowrie were name buddies destined to play together!) and others are gone. The Lester, Samardzija, and Hammel rentals are over, so I doubt their pitching will be as strong this year. I thought the whole point of giving up your best prospects for Samardzija (and Hammel I guess) was because they could keep him for an additional year, but they shipped him to the White Sox for Semien and prospects. The A’s are hoping Kazmir can remain healthy enough to pitch a full season again and Jesse Chavez to not break down like he did last year. Sonny Gray looks like a budding star, but he had some horrendous months and his K/9 regressed. Despite losing a ton of key players, the A’s went out and signed Billy Butler…not even the Royals wanted to resign him. They also acquired Ben Zobrist, and who knows maybe Brett Lawrie breaks out this year, I know I’m rooting for an Ike Davis revival. Ben Zobrist always has a high WAR, but somehow Coco Crisp is their most familiar player…because whenever I think of Coco Crisp I think of franchise center piece and not breakfast cereal. They traded Yunel Escobar for Tyler Clippard and he should work out better in the bullpen than last years Jim Johnson signing. I couldn’t explain how they were doing so well the past few years, but this year seems different. It feels like Billy Beane has been restocking the farm system while still trying to remain fairly competitive, but I don’t think they will be. I can’t begin to understand how Beane thinks, but if the A’s are competitive again this year, I swear he must be cheating somehow.
On the left a handsome baseball GM. On the right Brad Pitt. I can’t tell the difference anymore.
Here’s a piece that’s pretty much just emails between me and guest contributor Jamie Will about baseball. We based this off Scott Pianowski’s Breakfast Table pieces, which is always a good read. I’m in blue, he’s black.
Mark Mulder’s comeback from retirement is short-lived after he ruptures his Achilles tendon. Well that’s sad. The Angels needed any help they could get pitching wise and I was hoping to see him pitch a couple of games at least. I remember him as one of the big 3 pitchers for the A’s during the early Moneyball era, although they weren’t mentioned in the movie at all. Tim Hudson and Barry Zito have still been pitching after their time with the A’s even though Mulder was the youngest of the three. At least Zito pitched well for the Giants come playoffs, I mean how much can you complain about the bad contract when your team wins 2 World Series in the span of 3 years. You can’t.