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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:

Josh Rutledge – After his semi-charmed debut, I’m here to tell you to let him go. A couple weeks ago, Grey labeled Rutledge 2013 fantasy sleeper. Now, I’m not here to say that Grey has lost his mustache (and really, how could he?). Instead, I’m simply trying to be the Pied Piper of Razzball and lead all of you away from Rutledge in OPS leagues. I’ll admit that his .775 OPS last year is great for a shortstop and, while it wasn’t unexpected when compared to his minor league numbers, it was especially impressive since he skipped Triple A. He also has two factors that could help minimize any struggles next year: the benefit of playing in Coors and his plus speed. So just how am I going to convince you to avoid him? By complimenting him to death? Well, I’ll start by segueing into the next paragraph (seamless, huh?)…

First of all, I’m worried about his OPS by month: 1.076 in July, .931 in August, and .536 in September. Yes, it’s just one bad month after two fantastic months, but his strikeout rate nearly doubled to over 24% in that month, suggesting that he may become hack-tastic next year. Additionally, his home runs came in a bunch early on and then all but disappeared. He hit six home runs from July 23rd to August 4th, and then only hit two home runs for the rest of the season. Furthermore, four of his eight home runs were listed as “just enough” on home run tracker. While this is obviously a small sample, it’s more than I’d like to see, as it indicates that he may be unable to hit home runs at the same rate over a full season. And then there’s his miserable 3.1% walk rate that Grey also acknowledged. His refusal to draw walks could be something that other teams exploit and should result in a low OBP. Still, I’ll caveat this by saying that I don’t expect him to pull a Hosmer, but I’d definitely avoid him in OBP leagues and temper expectations in OPS leagues. I’ll give him a .260/.300/.450 line for 2013. That’s still solid for a middle infielder, but not worth where I expect him to be drafted.

Andrelton Simmons – Like Rutledge, Simmons performed well in his limited plate appearances. Also like Rutledge, his numbers weren’t completely unexpected when compared to his minor league performance. There aren’t many red flags with him, but there doesn’t appear to be much immediate upside, aside from stolen bases. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him approach his 2012 line of .289/.335/.416 in 2013. That’s good value for how late he’s likely to get drafted, if at all. He’s not quite worthy of being Andrelton 3000 yet, but I don’t expect him to remain an outcast for much longer.

  1. Czernobog says:
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    I’d take Jed Lowrie ahead of both for an OPS league. And pray to any relevant gods that he stays healthy.

    • KHG says:
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      I like Andrelton’s upside, especially the speed. He has a good baseball body and I think he’ll get stronger. I can see him as a 15 HR 15 SB guy starting this year.

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
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        @KHG: I definitely agree on the speed. I’m a bit less optimistic on the power, at least for this year, but he’s so young that it wouldn’t surprise me.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Czernobog: Yeah health is the main concern with him. If I draft Lowrie, I’m going to need a back up.

  2. MAOooohLaLa says:
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    how do you like Rutledge’s keeper prospects? Does he excite you more than, say, Matt Harvey? What about Todd Frazier? Each player costs $6 to keep this year, with a $5 increment each year (AKA they would cost $11 in 2014). 12 team standard 5×5. The top players usually go for around $45. Thanks.

    -OooohLaLa

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @MAOooohLaLa: In a standard league like that, I’d prefer Rutledge. His lack of walks isn’t as much of a concern there.

  3. The Black Monkey says:
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    Why hasn’t anybody mentioned Tulowitzki?!!? Did he get traded to another team or suffered another injury that I haven’t heard about? I heard about Tulo possibly switching positions.

    Anyways I’m not buying Rutledge mainly because of Tulo being the everyday starter at SS. Unless there’s a position switch by one of them, I won’t draft Rut.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @The Black Monkey: I haven’t seen anything about a position switch, but I wouldn’t bet against another injury…

  4. Z says:
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    unrelated — but Tom, how do you rank the following pitchers for 2013: Shelby Miller, Phil Hughes, Tyler Skaggs, Brett Anderson, Jake Peavy, Mike Minor, Jeff Samardzija? Most importantly who would you prefer to part with — Hughes, Skaggs or Miller?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Z: I’d rank them in the following order for 2013: Samardzija, Peavy, Minor, Anderson, Hughes, Miller, Skaggs, so I’d most prefer to part with Skaggs.

  5. Mike

    mike says:
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    I have Rutledge, Lowrie and Neil Walker all for $5 bucks in a 5 year keeper league. Do I have them ranked correctly there? THe back problems of Walker actually scare me more than Lowrie fluky injuries.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @mike: Yeah, I’d rank them the same way there.

  6. Jameson says:
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    I’m in a league with a $150M cap, 30 teams, 25-man rosters. Rutledge is a FA and the current bid on him is an eight-year $160M contract. I’m laughing my ass off at my fellow managers. Someone is going to sink his franchise with a single contract.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Jameson: Yeah that’s beyond insane. Just for comparison, who is a player with a similar contract in that league?

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