In Dune, a group of nomads called Fremen are almost wiped out by a race led by a maniacal, obese lard whose fat must be held up by a series of suspenders in order for him to move. These Fremen, reputed widely as the best warriors in the universe, are restricted to dwelling in caves and hiding from giant worms for their own safety because, well, apparently being the fiercest fighters in all of existence does not go very far. In Star Wars, a useless princess and ever-failing smuggler are helped by a band of stick- and rock-throwing bears to defeat an organization who has a massive army of laser-wielding clones and can blow planets up with one quick press of a humming button. In Lord of the Rings, a midget is able to evade an all-seeing eye while traversing the entire planet en route to destroying an omnipotent piece of jewelry. Also, the all-seeing eye decides not to station any of his acolytes at the only spot where that omnipotent piece of jewelry can actually be destroyed. All of these movies made their creators very, very, very filthy rich. And yes, they’re all freaking awesome, but that’s only because each was able to make their audience take a leap of faith and believe that — at least in those respective worlds — things like that actually did happen. These stories started out as something stupid, but morphed — via a whole lot of different things — into something great, beautiful, and, most of all, successful. They didn’t have our trust at first, but we gave them our faith, and they didn’t disappoint. I mean, when movies like Battle of LA are sci-fi alternatives, we don’t have a choice. Which leads us, farfetchedly — I do not care if that’s not a word — to the leap-of-faith keepers for 2014.
We’re not always in the position to keep a Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, or even a Jason Kipnis. That old fantasy adage, “always play for this year”, (yes, I’m in the school that believes punctuation should be outside quotations, and I’m happy to see it gaining traction in some publications) is undeniable, but if you made a push to spring yourself from second to first and are just realizing you made a huuuuuge mistake, you might not be in the position to keep someone on whom you’ll confidently rely next year. I see you, reader @AnalRapistTobiasFunke! Just like that gnawing feeling in your gut when it’s draft day and you’re in the 20th round and don’t have a 3B, staring into that great void you’ve left after a bad trade is deadly. Three weeks ago, you’re in third place : “You mean you’ll give me Jason Heyward and Albert Pujols for keeper Xander Bogaerts? LOL!” Today: “I am dead.”
Sometimes, you have to overlook a player not yet having produced anything substantial in the Majors yet and dig a bit deeper to find legitimate value. Sometimes, you have to overlook the stupid little bears rustling at the feet of giant laser-wielding bipeds to realize the greatest story of “good vs. evil” ever told — take that leap of faith.
The Daniel Nava train is off the rails and Jonny Gomes sucks — the only thing between Bradley and a starting job on Opening Day 2014 is a successful ROS ’13 and a solid offense/defense performance next year in Spring Training. Bradley leaked on the bed after winning a starting job to start this year, but he’s battled injuries this season and still hit .276 with 26 doubles and a 71/41 BB:K ratio in 353 AAA plate appearances.
He’ll have a much longer leash in ’14, and his elite defense should keep the Sox happy while he continues to develop. As you know by now, he’s not an elite power guy and not an elite speed guy, but, assuming health, he’s good for a 10/15 season with a pretty good batting average. He’ll also be hitting in the Sox lineup… in Fenway.
Considering his youth and his presumed everyday slot in the Sox lineup, Bradley will be going in the late rounds next year — if you keep him now you’ll be able to at least get him at some value.
Garcia will obviously be in the Opening Day lineup, White Sox edition, to start 2014, because he’s already hitting. So, I guess he’s not a full leap of faith, but kind of like… a step of faith?
He strikes out as much as a fat ugly kid, but that’s still improving. He steals bases, has 20-homer power, and is the Sox’s new shiny toy. His production this year is a bit of a joke — he has a .440 BAbip — but the raw tools are there and he’s only 22 despite having amassed a decent share of MLB at-bats already. He could be batting in the middle of the Sox lineup as early as the first game, which will make his draft stock shoot, so grabbing him now is a high-upside, high-risk keeper, just like his prospect status growing up in the Tigers organization.
A really good strikeout rate at 26.1% and 73.7% contact rate-against are the most exciting things about Gray, who is, you know, just another stud pitcher to come through the Oakland farm system and produce. He’s got a dirty curveball to complement his fastball duo and is a fly-ball pitcher who plays in O.Co, which is always a good combination.
He’s not overpowering guys as much as his K-rate would imply — hitters have a 29% LD% yet only have a .243 BAbip — but his propensity toward fly-balls should keep the BAbip-against relatively low, though not that low.
Keeping pitchers over hitters is always risky—I’M TAUNTING YOU, MATT HARVEY OWNERS. GO YANKS — and I’d rather have both above hitters than Gray, but I think he’ll be in the rotation next year and has the strikeout potential to be a solid fifth fantasy starter. If he’s free now and you have nothing else, why not?
This one has nothing to do with leaps of faith, other than the faith required to believe in his shoulder holding up. This is really more for the mistake title last week that made everyone believe I was going to write about Sanchez.
Highest K-rate ever, HR/FB at half its career rate. Everything else is right on par. Expect regression, but love him going forward.
Purposely omitted from this list: Kolten Wong.
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