Should You Add Alex Cobb?

Alex Cobb
By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Alex Cobb) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
September is here and that means rosters in the major leagues are expanding. Dugouts will be packed with players as minor leaguers around the country are promoted to the show. No more 25-man rosters as now clubs can have as many as 40 players on the big league roster. For fantasy baseball players this means there will be a lot of young guys being added to fantasy teams in hopes that they see enough playing time to contribute, but one player making his 2016 MLB debut today isn’t a young prospect as he is already 28 years old. That would be Alex Cobb.

Alex Cobb will make a return from Tommy John surgery today and start for the Tampa Bay Rays. Cobb hasn’t seen time in the majors since 2014 as he has battled his way back from the procedure and the complications he has faced after it. Question is should you be adding him to your fantasy roster in advance of his start or wait and hope you can get him later if he performs well? He is available in over 60% of leagues, but do you want to run the risk of it staying that way?

Over his four seasons in the majors Cobb amassed a 3.43 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.7 K/9 in 498.7 innings. Not bad if you could get those ratios this year, especially considering what the landscape has looked like in the starting pitcher market this season. His best year of the four was 2014 where he had a 3.23 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.1 K/9. In his 2016 minor league rehab he has started 8 games and pitched 21.7 innings, with 15 of those innings at Triple-A Durham. His performance in those starts has been less than stellar (6.65 ERA and 1.8 WHIP) which is somewhat expected considering the long layoff he has had, but will a jump to the majors change that?

Tampa Bay has nothing left to play for in 2016 and are bringing Cobb up is strictly to get him time in the majors again before the 2017 season. His control is not there yet and he has been very hittable in his rehab assignments. Rays’ management will likely be cautious with him, yet at the same time they want to get his inning count up regardless of the score to prepare him for next season. He likely will not win you a fantasy title this year, but could kill your ratios if he can’t find his former self by the end of the season. Expectations should be low after such a long time out of competitive situations and because of that I would stay clear of him unless you are a big risk taker and can afford to stash him away in hopes that he does the unexpected.

Instead of adding Cobb I would look to guys like Andrew Triggs (still only owned in 10 % of leagues), Kendall Graveman, Brandon Finnegan, or Alex Reyes. With Triggs being my favorite of the bunch and most available.

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Who is Eligible for Playoff Rosters

I didn’t realize how complicate it was to determine who is and is not eligible to be on a playoff roster. Why am I talking about this today? Because today was the last day a team can trade for a player and have that player be eligible for their playoff roster. Going forward teams can still make waiver trades, but any player acquired would not be eligible for their playoff roster.

I was going to write a great post on the full subject of playoff roster eligibility, but Dave Cameron at fangraphs.com already did it so why reinvent the wheel. To read all about it click here.

Rise and Fall of Yasiel Puig

Originally Posted August 3rd, 2016

In 2013 a young, vibrant, Cuban born player named Yasiel Puig burst on to the baseball scene. This 22 year old outfielder had an electric arm and smashed the ball out of the ballpark. Not to mention a fair bit of speed. After his call up Puig went on a tear and finished his rookie season with a .319/.391/.534 slash line with 19 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 104 games. Baseball fans everywhere were impressed by what he had done.

Turn to today and you will see a much different story. Puig was told on Monday that if he wasn’t traded he would be sent down and the latter came true. Yesterday he was sent to the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate Oklahoma City. Puig has seen his career nosedive since his outstanding rookie season. Not only has his performance on the field taken a hit, but there have been several stories about his off the field behavior that have made you wonder about his character. Little did we know at the time that in 2013 Puig would have his career high in home runs, stolen bases and batting average. He has had multiple injuries that have slowed his progress and one mental mistake after another.

Yasiel Puig
By TonyTheTiger (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
What Yasiel Puig really needs, and looks like he will get, is a refresh. Puig will get a chance to go down to AAA and sort out his issues. He will be able to learn the game the way he should have earlier in his career. It is not his fault he was rushed to the majors and not give a chance to truly learn the game of baseball, but he has been blamed for it over and over again. Now let’s not take all the blame away from him as his off the field and clubhouse issues are on this shoulders, but maybe this dose of humility will help him in that area as well. We wish Puig the best and know that it won’t be long before we see him in the majors again.

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.

Look Out Story, Here Comes Sanchez

Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has done something this season that no other rookie has done since, well since Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story did to start the season. Sanchez has hit nine home runs in his first 21 games. He is only one of nine players in MLB history to have 15 or more extra base hits in 21 games and only the second Yankee to do it. Let’s not forget those 21 games include two games in 2015 that he was called up for and one games on May 13th this season before he was sent back to Triple-A.

Though Story and Sanchez do share this honor of being two of a very few hitters to have nine home runs in their first 21 games they both are very different hitters. Story has produced a lot of power this season, but he is not the all-around hitter that Sanchez is showing to be. Story’s home runs are wall scrapers, with an average home run distance of 327 feet, while Sanchez hits not doubter and averages 409 feet. In 2016 Story has an average exit velocity of 91.5 mph as compared to Sanchez’s 94.6 mph. Don’t take my word for it though let’s dive deeper in to what these two rookies did in their first 21 games in the big leagues.

In his first 21 games with the Diamondbacks Trevor Story was putting balls over the wall like it was going out of style. He had ten home runs, one more than Sanchez, but he was prone to the strikeout. Through those first 21 games Story had 35 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances, he was striking out in 36% of his plate appearances. He had a .253 batting average, a .320 on-base percentage and nine walks (only walking in 9% of his PAs).
Sanchez on the other hand has not shown so far to be an all or nothing player. He is hitting .389 with a .450 OBP, only striking out 15 times in 80 plate appearances (19% of the time he strikes out) and walking 10% of the time with 8 walks so far.

Comparing two players strictly based on a 21 game sample size is far from fair and when you look at their minor league numbers these two players do look more similar than they do different with Story having a minor league slash line of .263/.348/.469 and Sanchez .275/.339/.460, but what they will do in the majors long term is still yet to be seen. What is fair to say is that both Sanchez and Story have shown they belong in the big leagues and love to put on a show for the fans. Only thing not enjoying their promotions this year are the baseballs.

(Photo Credit: By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Gary Sanchez) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)