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.

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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.

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.

Two Start Pitchers for Week 24

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By Johnmaxmena2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

With the 2016 season coming to a close soon and rosters expanded finding quality two-start pitchers who are available is becoming more and more difficult. Especially when you take in to account that this time of year managers are known to throw in a random starter at any point during a week that could push a pitcher out of a two start week. Below are out picks for two-start pitchers the week of September 12th.

Miguel Gonzalez, SP White Sox (8% Owned)

Former Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is lined up to face Cleveland and Kansas City in the upcoming week. And though the Indians are a touch match-up the Royals have been up and down offensively. He may have a hard time getting a win facing Carlos Carrasco and Danny Duffy, but he should give you good enough ratios and innings to have a shot at the win in both games. Over his last 9 starts Gonzalez has pitched extremely well with a 2.38 ERA and 1.057 WHIP. One of his best starts in that span was his last one against the Tigers where he tamed them to the tune of 6.3 innings, 6 hits, 0 walks and 0 earned runs. If he can hold down that offense, then he may have a shot to keep Cleveland’s power bats at bay as well.

Matt Boyd, SP Tigers (50% Owned)

Overshadowed in the Detroit Tigers rotation by Michael Fulmer and Justin Verlander has been the well performing Matt Boyd. Acquired from the Blue Jays Boyd took a while to get going this season, but is now firing on all cylinders. He will face a lack luster hitting Twins lineup to start the week and then go to Cleveland to face the always dangerous Indians. Both teams he faced before in 2016 and over three combined games against these two rivals he has pitched 16.7 innings and given up 10 hits, 5 walks and only 3 earned runs (all came in one game against Minnesota). Boyd’s season totals are not overly impressive but since July 9th he has had a n outstanding 2.56 ERA with a 1.154 WHIP. If he can keep his walks down, like he has so far against these two advisories this season, then he has a chance to put up good numbers in a week where two start pitchers are not easy to find.

There are some other, young, desirable options for two start pitcher in the coming week like Jose De Leon and Lucas Giolito but with the way schedules fall and the time of the year it may be hard to trust that both of these pitchers get their two starts.

Players We Wish We Drafted

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By slgckgc on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Last week I wrote a post about three players that fantasy baseball analyst missed the mark on by over valuing them coming in to the 2016 season. Today we look at players that everyone wishes they would have seen coming this season because they way over performed their draft day value.

Daniel Murphy, 2B Nationals

During the offseason the Washington Nationals shopped the market and added what at the time didn’t seem like a big piece to their team in Daniel Murphy. Murphy was coming off a hot stretch in the playoffs for the Mets where he found his power stroke to the tune of seven home runs in 14 games and hitting .328. As a whole, however, 2015 wasn’t all that different from any other year for Murphy finishing with 14 home runs, 2 stolen bases and a .322/.449/.770 triple slash line. Who would have thought that at 31 in 2016 he would have the break out season he has had? He came in to 2016 as the consensus 181st ranked player, but is currently ranked 5th. His power outburst that started in the playoffs has been followed up this season with 25 home runs and a career high .594 slugging. By the end of the year he should also set career highs in doubles, runs, RBIs, home runs and walks. Question will be for 2017 can he replicate this year’s performance.

Jonathan Villar, SS Brewers

Talent runs rampant in the Houston Astros system and because of that they had no place to play Jonathan Villar. That was good for the Milwaukee Brewers who traded for Villar in November. Coming in to 2016 he was ranked as the 414th player, more than likely not drafted in all but NL only leagues. Especially because he was seen as merely a place holder for the Brewer’s shortstop of the future Orlando Arcia. As the 6th ranked player so far in 2016 Villar has done nothing but impress with a full time role. He has played so well the Brewers delayed bringing up Arcia until much later in the year then we all expected. He is second in the majors, to Billy Hamilton, in stolen bases with 52 which has driven much of his value, but has also hit 13 home runs and is getting on-base in 38% of his plate appearances. Even with the promotion of Arcia, Villar is still seeing regular playing time at third base and is a staple at the top of Milwaukee’s order.

Jean Segura, SS Diamondbacks

In 2013 Jean Segura appeared to be on his way to a great career with a breakout season. He hit .294 with 44 stolen bases that year and fantasy owners thought they had their new great steals source. Then came 2014 and 2015 where his batting average dropped by 40 points and his stolen base numbers were cut in half. Those same fantasy owners were surely thinking what could have been. Coming in to 2016 Segura was fighting to make the opening day roster of his new club the Arizona Diamondbacks and on draft day no one was giving him much of a chance to do anything special as he was ranked 224th in preseason rankings. After an April where he hit .333 with four stolen bases and 4 home runs many owners began to take a second look at him on their waiver wire, but could he be trusted? The answer so far has been yes. He is hitting .317 on the season with 12 home runs, 30 stolen bases and 83 runs batting at the top of Arizona’s lineup. He is in the top 15 on the player rater for the season and looks to be the Segura of 2013. Many lucky fantasy owners who took a chance on this waiver wire pickup are jumping for joy with what he has done for their team.