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It’s time to start looking ahead to the 2013 fantasy baseball season. With that in mind, this column will hope to shine a light on players who are noticeably affected by OPS:

Mark Teixeira – I’m not trying to pour Boston tea on your wounds, Yankees fans, but Teixeira has been reduced to an afterthought for me in OPS leagues. Speaking of which, is “Boston tea” slang for whatever Manny was taking? What, too soon? Last year I said, “Is it just me, or does his name “Mark Teixeira” sound like the Macarena? It makes sense because he’s been overrated and is quickly becoming forgettable in OPS leagues. Earlier in the year I thought his 2012 season was predicted in the Mayan calendar and an .840 OPS could be on the high end for what to expect.” Since joining the Yankees in 2009, his batting average dropped from a typical .300 to a .250, while his OBP has dropped roughly 10-20 points annually. Choose your own adventure time! For my thoughts on why Tex has evolved (sorry those of you anti-Darwin Barney peeps) and my projection for him this season, see the next paragraph. To see the connection to Granderson, skip down two paragraphs. For those of you who want to comment without reading the article (you know who you are), please see the comment section…

Upon joining the Yankees, Teixeira started hitting a ton more fly balls. Essentially, he was willing to trade off a lower batting average for the potential to continue hitting a high number of home runs (not that there’s anything wrong with that). However, something went wrong last year. Yes, he missed time, but even if he had played a full season his production would have significantly decreased. He became even more aggressive, as indicated by his increased contact with pitches outside the strike zone. One result was that he hit more ground balls and, being speed-challenged, this dropped his line to a career-low .251/.332/.475. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is likely that he will be able to turn things around, so I won’t expect much more than an .800 OPS from him this year. That’s not anywhere near what you’d hope for from your first baseman.

Curtis Granderson – “Who can take an unsustainable HR/FB rate, and sprinkle it with luck? The Grandy Man can.” That best summarizes my view of Granderson’s 2012 season. While he does not have the identical specifics of Teixeira’s disease, he has the overall syndrome: being overly aggressive. Whereas Teixeira had a correlation between making contact with pitches outside the strike zone and a decrease in his fly balls (which are pretty fly), Granderson swung at and missed more pitches outside the strike zone last season. This resulted in him having the highest strikeout rate of his career at 28.5%. If this trend continues, he won’t be making enough contact to hit the necessary amount of home runs to drive his overall numbers. Even if his strikeout rate remains the same, I could easily see a drop in his home runs because his 24.2% HR/FB was easily the highest of his career (his career average since joining the Yankees is roughly 20%). One positive is that he increased his line drives last year, so there is the potential for an increase in batting average. I project a .240/.330/.480 line for 2013.

23 Responses

  1. Hondo says:
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    How about some suggestions for positive result types? I got burned by Texiera so bad last year I might put off 1B until Rizzo or LaRoche(who bailed me out off waivers last year).I am kind of worried about him reverting to his customary 1st half blah though.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Hondo: Ha, I was planning for a positive one next week. Feel free to suggest any players/positions/topics you’d like covered – I’m always willing to consider requests.

      I would prefer either Rizzo or LaRoche to Teixeira, even if they were the same price. Either of those guys should have a better batting average and a better overall OPS than Teixeira with, at worst, five less home runs.

  2. Ferga says:
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    I am with the poster above. If you could give us 10 great OPS value plays, that would be awesome.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Ferga: Thanks for the feedback. I’ll definitely try to do something like that this month…

    • Jay29 says:
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      @Ferga: I’m not Tom Jacks, and I don’t want to steal his thunder, but I play in an OPS league (replacing BA in 5×5). In my projections this year, I ran $ values for both OPS and BA leagues, and then calculated the difference in value for all players between the two league types.

      So here are the guys with the highest gain in switching from BA to OPS (again, based on my projections, so they’re not holy writ):

      Adam Dunn +$14 (from $11 to $24)
      Mark Reynolds +$11 (-$3 to $8)
      Jose Bautista +$11 ($17 to $29)
      Josh Willingham +9 ($11 to $19)
      Curtis Granderson +9 ($19 to $28)

      And the guys whose value drops most:

      Ben Revere -$13 ($14 to $1)
      Jose Altuve -$10 ($18 to $8)
      Alcides Escobar -$10 ($6 to -$4)
      Elvis Andrus -$8 ($12 to $4)
      Ichiro Suzuki -$8 ($9 to $1)

      So watch out for those low-BB%, low-power speedsters. It ain’t worth paying for SBs in OPS leagues — it’s best to get them spread out over several power/speed threats from Braun, McCutchen, and Wright at the top to guys like Kendrick, Frazier, and Seager lower down.

      • Jay29 says:
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        @Jay29: Sorry, I was rounding off too hastily so the math doesn’t make sense in all of those. But you get the point.

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
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        @Jay29: Thanks for posting! Don’t worry about stealing my thunder, I’m all for more comments here, especially when they’re helpful.

        This list makes a lot of sense. Willingham was one of my faves last year and I still like him for this year. The speed guys killing you makes sense and I think you’ve given me an idea for an article: SAGNOFs that are safe in OPS leagues. If there is such a thing.

        • Jay29 says:
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          @Tom Jacks: No problem. Anything to help the 99.999% of fantasy players out there who aren’t in my league. :-)

          That’s a great idea for an article (and focusing on the guys who retain some value as opposed to those who lose their value would satisfy those other commenters who want positivity!). There aren’t many guys who get most of their value from SBs that don’t get killed in OPS leagues. Brett Gardner-types that lack power but have a nice BB% aren’t hurt much by the OPS switch (I think the same will apply to Billy Hamilton when he arrives). Basically if a guy can either (a) hit around 7-10 HRs or (b) walk at least 8 or 9% of PAs, he’s still worth going for about the same time you’d get him in a BA league. It’s the guys with no power AND no plate discipline that really lose value.

          • Tom Jacks

            Tom Jacks says:
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            @Jay29: Haha nice and thanks! I agree that they need to be at some threshold of power/obp to retain value (he’s no secret, but Jennings also comes to mind) and/or have really mediocre alternatives at their position, like Reyes and Altuve.

        • The next great razzball writer! says:
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          @Tom Jacks: This is why I love the comment section,and when readers actually participate and give feed back! Cant wait for that article. Thank you for the great work as always.
          Do you think the yankees are going to trade granderson before the deadline? He is a FA next year, and im saying this as a yankee fan, the yankees need to start retooling.

          • Tom Jacks

            Tom Jacks says:
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            @The next great razzball writer!: Thanks! I agree about the comment section and the participation here is one of my favorite things about Razzball.
            I really don’t see the Yankees trading Granderson unless they are way out of contention by the trade deadline (like below .500, which I don’t think they’ll be). Even then, is he a Type A or B free agent? If so, they would stand to gain just by hanging onto him and not resigning him.

  3. centerfieldballhawk says:
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    In what category would you find Adrian Gonzalez? His walk rate is suspect, as Grey alluded to in his player post. Are we looking a natural regression or were there some indicators that point to last year being anomaly?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @centerfieldballhawk: I agree that his incredibly shrinking walk rate is a red flag. Unfortunately, I don’t see it improving much because he’s been swinging at and making more contact with pitches outside the strike zone over the past few years. As his aggressiveness outside the strike zone has increased, his walk rate has decreased, which makes sense. Without a better walk rate, I don’t think he’ll produce an OBP over .360.

      The area where we could see some regression is his HR/FB. It’s possible that his slugging creeps up near .500 this year. So that leaves you with an ~.850 OPS guy with a good batting average and counting stats. That’s fine, but no longer elite.

      • centerfieldballhawk says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Are we now looking at end of the third round, beginning of the fourth round kind of elite?

  4. manormachine? says:
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    Good article. I own Tex in a keeper league for $29, but I’m becoming convinced the money could be better spent elsewhere with the depth of 1B.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @manormachine?: Yeah, there’s probably better places to spend $29, especially in a keeper. So many up and coming first basemen in keeper leagues like Goldschmidt, Rizzo, Davis…

  5. SwaggerJackers says:
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    @Tom Jacks (Jax?) Since you asked, here’s a couple players I’d like to see some commentary on (with a 2013 OBP projection for each).

    Gardner, Aoki, Jennings, V Mart, Uggla, Machado, Berkman, Plouffe

    Thanks. Mortal Kombatttttt

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @SwaggerJackers: Ha! Thanks for that reference. Somehow I haven’t heard that one in years. And thanks for those players, I’ll do my best to incorporate them over the next few weeks. I almost forgot that Detroit will be returning to Z(ombie) Mart this year…

      • SwaggerJackers says:
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        @Tom Jacks:

        It’s probably because poor Mortal Kombat hasn’t been relevant for years.

        As a premise for a Catcher post, how about the pro’s and con’s of V-Mart and Napoli?

        Jennings, Aoki, and Gardner could be lumped into a speed post. It’s hard to find speed guys later in the draft that can take a walk to get to first.

        A post I’d love to see is OBP players to target around picks 250-300 after all the obvious guys are gone.

        Now get those bionic arms workin!

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @SwaggerJackers: Thanks, very helpful. I’m intrigued by that catcher post. It could get me verbally massacred, but I’m ready for battle.

          The speed post connects with what Jay29 had just said, so I’m going to take that as a consensus (I’m assuming “consensus” means at least two people). I had also been meaning to cover Jennings so that works nicely.

          The late round guys is a good idea too. I haven’t done one of those is awhile.

  6. Jim says:
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    In a keeper league that counts both AVG and OPS, whom would you rather have: Jemile Weeks or Jed Lowrie?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Jim: I’d rather have Lowrie. The injury risk is obviously there, but he should be productive when healthy. I don’t think Weeks has much upside at all.

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