Don’t worry Braves fans, your future is bright

Before the 2018 season the Atlanta Braves were likely not on your list to make it to the MLB post-season. In 2017 the Braves had finished in the middle of their division with only 72 wins and 90 losses, clearly not impressive. Many pundits (guys who pretend they can predict the future, maybe I fit in that category as well) would have told you the 2018 Braves would be lucky to get to a .500. Buy were we, they, us wrong.

Ending the season with a 90-72 record the 2018 Atlanta Braves flipped they 2017 record and proved just how wrong we all could be about a team. With 90 wins they finished eight wins ahead of the Washington Nationals who were picked to win that division. It was a special season for this young team lead by old faithful Freddie Freeman.

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By Bruce Tuten on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Freddie Freeman was rejuvenated in 2018 having one of the best seasons of his career. He set career highs in hits and doubles, while playing 162 games. Freeman played in the most games since 2014 when he also played in 162.

Freeman wasn’t the only standout for the Braves as Mike Foltynewicz seemed to finally live up to his potential in his fifth year as a major league player. Foltynewicz was rewarded for his success by being named to his first all-star team. All of this while surpassing former phenom Julio Teheran as the ace of the the Braves’ staff.

Yes Freeman and Foltynewicz stood out and are names you probably knew already , but the main reason Braves nation should be excited about the future lies in the young bucks. I’m talking about Ozzie Albies (age 21), Dansby Swanson (age 24), Ronald Acuna (age 20) who lead the team in home runs and Sean Newcomb (age 25) who had 12 wins this season. These are the names of the future for the Atlanta Braves

So yes Braves fans you were eliminated from the playoffs tonight by Manny Machado and the Dodgers, but hold your head high and know that next year could be your year. Your future is bright and filled with rising stars.

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NL Rookie of the Year

Corey Seager
By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Congratulations to Corey Seager for winning the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year award. Seager was a standout for the Dodgers in 2016 and was hands down the top rookie for the NL. Many have even mentioned his name as a possible NL MVP. This young man has a bright future in Los Angeles where he will man shortstop for many years to come.

What were the Dodgers thinking?

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By SD Dirk on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Clayton Kershaw”) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I meant to write about this the other day, but life got in the way so please excuse my tardiness. In game five of the Dodger and National NLDS Dave Roberts made some rather unconventional moves and many celebrated him for it, but I think one of them was absolutely wrong. That move was using Clayton Kershaw as his closer.
I have no problem using Kenley Jansen earlier than the ninth innings as managers have to manage in a deciding game like there is no tomorrow and Jansen is the team’s best reliever. But what was the team thinking when they brought in Kershaw to close the game?

Let’s not forget Kershaw spent an extended period of time on the disabled list this season, had never closed a game before and is your most expensive player on the roster. Now, many judge the move by the outcome and they won so it was a genius move. I on the other hand completely disagree. Let’s put aside the fact that you could have done serious damage to Kershaw pitching him in hat situation because he is not use to it, but what message are you sending to your other relievers. Basically we have such little faith in all of you that we are going to take a huge risk with Clayton and pitch him over you.

It all turned out for the best to this point, but this is a risk that no manager should take in the future. You have relievers for a reason and they get paid to do a job. If you don’t have faith that they can do their job then why are they on your post-season roster.

A Deeper Look at Deciding the MVP

 

Every season there is much debate about who should win the MVP award in the American and National Leagues. There are many out there who think that the award should go to a player on a contending team, while others say that is not the case. We decided to look a little deeper and share our opinion on the subject.

The official rules for voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for the MVP award look like this: (1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort; (4) former winners are eligible; and (5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team. As you can clearly read in no way does the strength of the player’s team come in to the rules of voting. There is no mention of games won, a team being in playoff contention or anything else regarding the team a player plays for. So, why is it that so many people in the media and around the water cooler feel that the MVP needs to be on a contending team?

Does a player on a contending team play harder than one who is not? Or do opposing teams not give their best against players on non-contending teams? Of course not, so why care what the team’s performance has been for an individual award.

With all that being said there really is no argument in my mind as to how the MVP should be chosen. It is simple, use Wins Above Replacement or WAR. By definition WAR is a measure of how many wins, or how much value, an individual player brings to a team over a replacement level player. Higher the WAR, the more valuable that player is to their team. It’s a measure that takes team record and performance out of the equation and is strictly based on the individual.

Now that we have established how he MVP awards should be decided it’s easy to see that the National League MVP is Kris Bryant with a WAR of 7.3 and the American League MVP is Mike Trout with an MLB leading WAR of 10.0. Neither of these players isn’t already in the discussion for MVP, which just adds more credibility to the argument that WAR is the measure of who should be MVP.

On a side note, if you don’t realize it Mike Trout’s WAR of 10.0 is somewhat historic.

If you need more proof, then just look at the runner-ups in the AL and NL; Mookie Betts and Corey Seager. Both of them are also in the MVP discussion. Or maybe we should look at last year’s MVPs and where they fell in WAR. Bryce Harper lead MLB in WAR and Josh Donaldson was 5th. Not convinced yet? Ok, 2014’s MVPs Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout were number one and two in MLB WAR.

Yes, there will be plenty who say I am oversimplifying the MVP award by using one stat as the deciding factor, but those people are just behind the times and don’t realize stats rule baseball.

Hitters to Avoid in 2017

Yesterday we highlighted pitchers that, due mostly to injury concerns, we will be avoiding in 2017 drafts. Today we thought it only fair to pay attention to the other side of the game and name some hitters we won’t be drafting.

Yasiel Puig, OF Dodgers

There is a big hole in the outfield when it comes to quality fantasy players, one of the slimmest crop of usable players in a while. Even with that we will be avoiding Yasiel Puig. It is highly probably Puig will be traded in the offseason and a lot of people believe it will be to the Brewers, we agree with that by the way. Even if that happens and opens up his playing time we still believe he is too risky. He has not shown that he can be consistent nor stay healthy. He won’t go high in drafts likely, but still we want to stay away.

Jay Bruce, OF Mets

Again, we know there are not a lot of great outfielders to choose from, but Jay Bruce is not someone you want next year. Since his trade to the New York Mets Bruce had been horrible. In 36 games he has a slash line of .192/.271/.315, with only 4 home runs. Question has been asked is he trying to prove too much to his new team or is this simply regression to the mean for him. We believe it is that latter. Last time Bruce his over .250 was in 2013 and it is clear to us that his hot season in Cincinnati was not the new norm for him, but just an extended hot streak.

Jose Bautista, OF Blue Jays

Maybe we should have tried a little harder to find players outside of the outfield, but it is just where we found players we don’t want for 2017. Jose Bautista has his lowest batting average since 2005 when he hit .143. Next year he will be 36 years old and has progressively been showing signs of aging with declining performance and increasing time injured. He is still valued by most fantasy players as a high end option, but is not returning what you have to pay for him. He is likely going to finish the regular season with his first sub-25 home run season since 2009. If he isn’t knocking the ball out of the park, isn’t hitting for a good average and isn’t driving in 100+ runs then he just doesn’t provide enough value for where he will be drafted.

Daniel Murphy, 2B Nationals

Finally, a non-outfielder and probably a pick that has you scratching your head. Daniel Murphy has been a major break out star in his age 31 season and has given owners plenty to celebrate. However, is it really something he can do again next year? We predict that many fantasy owners will be drafting Murphy in the first three rounds and he will not return that value. It is very unlikely that at 32 Murphy will be able to repeat his 2016 season. He has made it known that he made changes to his batting stance to increase his power production, but even if that sticks next year he will more than likely fall off in batting average as he has his highest BABIP since 2008 at .350 that is not going to be repeated. He will be a very useful fantasy player in 2017, but not worth where you will have to draft him.

There are without a doubt a lot more players that will be on our do not draft list for 2017 like Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Mark Trumbo and Billy Hamilton, but we didn’t have room to talk about them all here. Be on the lookout during the offseason however for more on why these players won’t be on any of our fantasy baseball teams in 2017.