Tim Stauffer – Way back when, Tim Stauffer was a stand-out hurler for the Richmond Spiders, sort of in my backyard. He was so good, the Padres made him the fourth pick of the 2003 draft.
Stauffer started out well, dominating A+, AA and AAA (168 IPs, 2.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9 and 6.1 K/9). While the strikeout totals were a bit low, there was definitely promise there.
Sure enough, next year, entirely at AAA, the Ks came back in a big way. He posted a 7.6 K/9 rate to match a darn impressive walk rate (2 BB/9). Unfortunately, that sterling performance didn’t translate well to the “important” columns as Stauffer posted a 5.14 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Still, he got the call in the summer of 2005, though he pitched poorly in 81 MLB innings.
The next season (2006) Stauffer was stationed mostly in AAA, where he saw his strikeouts dwindle and his walks increase. He battled injuries and ineffectiveness throughout most of the season and get just one start in the majors.
Then he lost the entire 2008 season to injury.
He returned to AAA in 2009 and fared pretty well in a small amount of innings (42). His walk rate was below two and he posted a 3.5 K:BB rate, which would play anywhere. The Padres recognized this and recalled him to San Diego, giving him his first real taste of the big leagues since 2005. Unfortunately, he was unable to replicate his AAA success over 14 starts for the parent club. While the ERA was shiny (3.58), his 1.44 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9 rate and 1.56 K:BB rate were horrid.
Still, he got another opportunity in 2010, albeit mostly in relief. He excelled, tempting the Padres to make him a full-time starter, which they did in 2011.
So far, he is making management look good, posting a 2.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.15 K/9 rate and 2.09 BB/9 rate. There isn’t a ton of flukiness in his numbers either. The strand rate is a little on the high side and the home run rate is a little below 10% (just the benefits of playing in Petco). He is giving up a lot more line drives than last year, but he’s also pitching more and getting more swinging strikes.
There’s no real mirage here. Stauffer is a solid pitcher, capable of maintaining his K-rate and most of his peripherals. I don’t see him finishing with a sub-3.00 ERA, but it won’t be above 3.40. If you scooped him up when your leaguemate dropped him after initial struggles, feel free to send a taunting email, text Facebook poke, tweet, or DM.
Melky Cabrera – I can’t find the link, so I might be wrong, but the great (and I’m not being sarcastic) Rob Neyer once included Melky as one of the best building blocks in all of the majors. It wasn’t without reason.
Melk Man or Leche got off to a strong start in his career. He was signed at 17 and debuted in A- ball at 18. He went .283/.345/.355. While his power was lacking, there was no ignoring his ability to get on base.
While he didn’t raise his walk rate the following season at A+ and A-, he did post an impressive .304/.355/.446 line at only 19 – numbers that would play for most centerfielders.
Just three years after signing, and only 20 years old, Melky got his first taste of AAA. He didn’t fare so well (.248/.309/.366) but that didn’t dissuade the Yankees from bringing him up. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well in his initial MLB experience (.211/.211/.211).
So, he was returned to AAA in 2006, though for only a short stay (31 games). After torching the ball (.385/.430/.566), the 21-year-old got the call and it looked like he’d never ride a bus in the minors again. In the majors, Melky posted a .280/.360/.391 line in 524 plate appearances.
In 2007, he hit a lot of ground balls, and his numbers dipped accordingly (.273/.327/.391). Still though, there was plenty of promise surrounding this 22-year-old centerfielder.
Unfortunately, Melky hit even more ground balls in 2007 and his numbers dipped considerably: .249/.301/.341.
Melky was briefly demoted to the minors that year, where he performed incredibly well. But there was no doubt about it, the Leche was tainted.
Still, he bounced back to play pretty well in 2009 (.274/.336/.416), but Brett Gardner made him expendable and the Yankees shipped him to Atlanta for that Javy Vazquez guy. Talk about everyone losing a trade.
He performed poorly for the Braves and was released. But since he was once a Brave and once good (hello Jeff Francoeur), the Royals decided to sign him. It made no sense at the time. Of course we forgot that you can be crazy like a fox instead of just plain ol’ crazy. The Melk Man has been fantastic this year (.286/.323/.451) with 2.7 WAR (that’s astounding). He is already in double digits for both homers and steals. The only real bizarre thing he is doing is hitting the ball with authority. He’s posting a 10.7% HR/FB rate, which is somewhat out of whack with his career (although he did post a similar rate in 2009).
Melky should wind up with at least 17 homers and steals, with an easy outside shot at 20+ in each category. I’m more inclined to bet on the 20+ steals, but who knows if the power will continue. He’s a better real life value, but if you’re rolling him out there, no reason his current pace can’t continue. I’m shocked.
By the way, Melky is the 38th ranked player in 5×5 roto. Wowsers.
Asdrubal Cabrera – What a whackadoodle career Cabrera has had so far. He is the first person named Asdrubal to appear in the ALCS and was the 14th player to turn an unassisted triple play.
In 2002, at 17, Cabrera was signed by the Mariners. About two years later, he debuted and played pretty well in low ball. In 2005, he played quite well at A and A+ ball, though he didn’t thrive in 25 PAs in AAA.
He struggled the following season for Tacoma (the Mariners’ AAA affiliate) and was traded to the Indians for Eduardo Perez. He didn’t play much better at Buffalo, but there was promise in the .263/.295/.337 line.
Still, the Indians decided to start the 21-year-old at AA the following year. He played exceptional: .310/.383/.454 and earned a promotion to AAA. This time he maintained his pace and earned a quick call to the majors. He looked like a star in the making in his initial major league stint, going .283/.354/.421 in 186 plate appearances.
However, he stumbled the following season, going just .259/.346/.366 – still impressive numbers from a 22-year-old middle infielder.
Finally, in 2009, at just 23, it looked like he put it all together: spinning a .308/.361/.438 masterpiece.
2010 appeared to be a breakout season for Cabrera; unfortunately, he was unhealthy throughout the season and not as effective as 2009. Going into 2011, Cabrera was largely an afterthought, yet he is by far the best healthy shortstop out there. At the break, he has 14 bombs, 12 steals and a .293/.347/.489 line.
He isn’t much different from the 2008-2009 versions. The line drive, fly ball and ground ball rates are right in line. Of course, his HR/FB rate is 13.7%, almost double his previous career high (6.7% in 2008). A 20/20 season is a foregone conclusion at this point. I do think we’ve seen the best half of his career for maybe a year or so. However, 7-9 more HRs and 10 more SBs seem certainly possible.
Unless Tulo gets hot, Cabrera could end up the #1 SS in all of the land.