Which of these doesn’t belong?

mookie_betts_on_april_242c_2015
By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Mike Trout
By Keith Allison on Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Last year at this time there were debates throughout fantasy baseball about who should be the number one overall pick in drafts. Many analysts were hell bent on anointing Bryce Harper to that first overall pick over Mike Trout. We saw what happened with Harper last season after his “breakout” season in 2015. Now the question is, who in the top ten will be the Harper of 2017?

According to FantasyPros.com the consensus top ten books look like this:
1. Mike Trout
2. Mookie Betts
3. Jose Altuve
4. Kris Bryant
5. Nolan Arenado
6. Paul Goldschmidt
7. Clayton Kershaw
8. Manny Machado
9. Josh Donaldson
10. Bryce Harper

For us one time on this list sticks out more than any other as a possible bust. Can you guess who? Nope your wrong, or maybe you were right, its Mookie Betts.

In his first two seasons Mookie averaged 12 home runs, 48 RBIs, 63 runs and a slash line of .291/.348/.471 over 197 games, yes a very small sample size. In 2016 Betts is more home runs than in the previous two years combined with 31, had 113 RBIs, 122 runs and a triple slash of .318/.363/.534 over 158 games, and even smaller sample size. So, which small sample size are we supposed to believe?

For me, if I am have the second overall pick in a draft I want to make sure I am getting a top player that has consistently performed that way and Betts is not that guy. Do I believe that he could be the number two overall player come end of the season, absolutely, but I am not willing to bet on it. I don’t want to be the guy that last year took Harper number one overall and kick myself for trusting one breakout season. Betts is deserving of a top ten pick, but not a top five.

My top five picks are easy, Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Josh Donaldson, Clayton Kershaw and Nolan Arenado. Pick Mookie Betts at your own risk and buyer beware.

Disagree? Great, let us hear about it and why.

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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.

2016 MLB OBP Leader Surprise

In this day and age many baseball fans pay very close attention to on-base percentage as a measure of how good a batter may or may not be. I don’t know that we can say exactly why we follow it so much more now, but I blame it on the movie Money Ball. Great movie by the way, you must see it if your a baseball fan.

What is on-base percentage, or OBP? It is pretty simple, a measure of how often a player gets on base. To calculate the actual percentage you would use the following formula OBP = (Hits + Walks + Hit by Pitch) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit by Pitch + Sacrifice Flies). Ok, so why is this important in baseball. That is somewhat obvious, the more a player is able to get on base the more often he has a chance to score.

Looking around my favorite baseball sites today and deciding what I wanted to post about I looked up OBP leaders for 2016 and the top five included names I expect; Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Jose Altuve and Paul Goldschmidt. There was however one name that surprised me. Not sure why I didn’t realize this player was such an OBP machine, but he seems to be. Number four on the list of on-base percentage leaders is, can you guess, DJ LeMahieu. Surprised? Like I said, I sure was.

On-Base% 
1. Trout (LAA) .436
2. Votto (CIN) .431
3. Goldschmidt (ARI) .418
4. LeMahieu (COL) .417
5. Altuve (HOU) .412

DJ LeMahieu
By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “DJ LeMahieu”) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
LeMahieu currently has an OBP of .417 to go along with a batting average of .344 and slugging percentage of .499. He is quietly putting together a very decent season and is on pace for a career high in hits, average, on-base, and slugging. Already this season he has set his career high in runs, walks and home runs. He is the #4 ranked second baseman in fantasy baseball according to FantasyPros player rater ahead of Brian Dozier, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler. Yet most analyst rarely talk about him.

Why is he such an under the radar player? There are a few reasons. First, he plays on a team with Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado. Second, he lacks that sexy stat line that includes huge power numbers or stolen bases. Likely next year he won’t be drafted as the #4 second baseman because of these reasons. At least partially because of that as I would anticipate before the season is over some regression in his average and OBP since he currently has a .384 BAbip, roughly .084 points higher than league average. Which is actually good news if everyone else sleeps on him since that allows you to pick him up later in a draft and return really good value next year. One other thing you may want to consider, in 2015 he finished 3rd in roto rankings for second baseman.

2017’s #1 Overall Pick

Recently I read an article on CBSSports.com written by Scott White (To read the article you can click here). It made me a bit frustrated. Not frustrated with White himself, since he says Mike Trout would be his top pick in 2017, but about the fact that this even has to be discussed.

I get as fantasy baseball owners we are always looking for the next big thing and we love chasing the hot hand, but when someone like Trout comes along and consistently performs at the level he does there is no reason to ever stray from him. Many owners did this with Bryce Harper this year after one great season and paid the price for it. Next season owners will be doing it again with Mookie Betts or Jose Altuve, but the reality is neither has done it as long or as good as Mike Trout.

My advice, trust the track record because the last thing you can afford to do is waste the first overall pick.

Byron Buxton, Prospect or Bust

Originally Posted on August 10th, 2016

On Sunday the Minnesota Twins had to make a roster move in order to make room for Trevor Plouffe. Their decision was to send down former number one prospect Byron Buxton. This wasn’t the first time the Twins felt the need to send Buxton back to Triple-A this season and it’s not the last we will see of him in the majors this season. Now we ask though, is Buxton a prospect or a bust?

Since turning pro at age 18 Byron Buxton has been a top prospect in the Twins organization. He was ranked the number one prospect in baseball for multiple years and was compared to superstar slugger Mike Trout at times. Problem is at this point that

Byron Buxton
By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Byron Buxton) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
has yet to live up to the hype. After two partial seasons in the majors he is hitting .209 with three home runs and 11 stolen bases. He strikes out 31.9% of the time and only walks less than four in every 100 at bats. In each of these two major league seasons Buxton has more strikeouts than walks and hits combined. He truly has looked over-matched in the big leagues.

Is it really Byron Buxton’s fault though or should we be looking at the Twins? Buxton has played in only 306 games in the minors, only 43 of those games came at Triple-A Rochester. Could it be that this 22 year old center fielder was pushed to the majors too soon? Does he need more seasoning after not playing a full season at any one level due to injuries or promotions? We tend to side on the it’s too early to tell. Buxton appears to have all the talent in the world and has thrived at Triple-A, but now he needs to develop as a major league hitter. He likely has more chances to prove himself with the big league club coming and when that happens we will get a better idea if he can make it long term.