Today I had jury duty for the very first time. As a lot of you know, that means I sat in a room doing literally nothing for eight hours hearing about some guy who accidentally burnt himself, while I’m sitting there wishing the trial was actually for a drug-deal-gone-bad-quadruple-homicide. After about five hours I was simply staring at the hottest fellow juror because at that point I no longer cared what she or anyone else in the room thought of me. As you might assume, all the time I didn’t spend making phony racist assertions and promising that in no way will I be a fair judge, I was fantasizing about fantasy baseball. It was the only thing that kept me from scratching my eyes out, God of War combo-punching everyone, and subsequently getting shot in the face by a security guard, which now seems like it might have been the best course of action because I have to go back tomorrow. “Who the hell is Yoervis Medina and why did he get a save last night?” “Excuse me, sir, phone usage is discouraged.” “LOL, yeah.” In a way, the entire day’s proceedings were eerily similar to a lost fantasy season — as time went on, things seemed bleaker, time moved slower, and windows seemed more appealing. Even if this season is a jury duty of a season, don’t let next year’s be. That’s why we have our beloved keepers — guys on whom we develop creepy man-crushes and who symbolize hope.
The trade deadline is approaching fast, or actually just as fast as anything else approaches. But… still… fast, I guess? Anyway, it’s time to make moves, even if it’s only for 2014. Instead of looking at just two dudes, let’s check out a longer list of guys — that deadline ain’t waiting for this column to come out each week — whom you want to target if you have that slim playoff hope or if you want to stock up on promising keepers who’ll deliver next year, the year after that, and the year after that, assuming they don’t suffer the same fate as James Gandolfini . By the way, if a random Italian stroke can snuff out TV’s veriest epitome of masculinity, then my screen is already dimming. Anyway, let’s gander at some keepers you’ll consider when considering 2014 — some are worth getting, and some will make you love high windows as much as I did earlier today. Keepers, just like Obi-Wan, are sometimes our only hope.
Anthony Rizzo (109.4 ADP in 2013 ESPN leagues, will be around 145.0 in 2014)
After today, we’re starting this thing off with someone who I don’t like for next year.
Remember when there was talk earlier this year that Rizzo might be sent down because he might “need more development”? Well, Dale Sveum is actually a bona fide idiot, so don’t ever listen to what he says. After a gruesome start following his stint on the Italian WBC squad despite spending an entire life in Fort Lauderdale, Rizzo’s strikeout rate has stabilized, his walk rate has surpassed last year’s by 2.9%, and he’s driving 49% of his hits for extra bases — an unsustainable number that is still as sexy as that girl I was staring at in the courthouse.
There’s a cap here. I don’t think Rizzo’s one of those 32-37 homer guys that a lot of people hoped he was, but his 25-28-homer power that he showed in the Minors is obviously legitimate. He’s young and he’s definitely acquirable.
Get him, especially if his friend…
Starlin Castro (37.4, similar next year) turns back into Starlin Castro, which he will.
BAbip is used so carelessly by so many people that it’s almost become as superficial a stat as BA or OBP, but Starlin’s average when he puts it in play is too low for it to remain. A 19% line-drive rate, which is legit, although perhaps not by Starlin standards, doesn’t fit with a .283 BAbip, especially considering Castro’s speed. He’s fast, yet, ironically, this is the part where I take a shot at his speed.
At some point, perhaps when idiot Dale Sveum is fired, someone will realize that when a player steals 25 bases in 38 attempts and is hitting in front of Anthony Rizzo, it’s not worth attempting to steal at all. He’s 6-for-7 this year, which is dandy, but don’t be fooled — he’s been getting caught too much his whole life.
Potentially a perennial top-3 SS, and he doesn’t have that frustrating injury history. I like him for a resurgence in the second half — a resurgence that will at least keep his stock where it was this year, and a resurgence you’ll want to precede.
In leagues that count “LOLZ there’s no chance you’re getting a hit here” catches, keep Venable. In any other league, disregard. This is also a simple way to get this catch into this post.
Venable is waiver-wire jailbait — he’s an underage girl that will screw you then screw your team, that is — but Revere has value going forward because you got him for in exchange for your last disembowelment and he gives you the freedom to go for some of those Prince Fielder types without worrying about lost speed. Well-rounded teams with a handful of 10-to-15 SB guys are good, but you always want one of those fast super-freaks. Revere has much higher speed potential than the guy I spoke about last week, Starling Marte. He’ll have a speed explosion in the second half this year and is getting better.
You’ll also want him in those LTNCYGAHH leagues.
Big Lead should take some GIF-making tips from Triples Alley, or at least ask him what software he uses. And which catch was better?
Andrelton Simmons (186.4, same in 2014)
God I love guys who don’t strikeout. God I hate guys who can’t draw a walk. What I hate even more? Guys with speed who insist on hitting the ball in the air because they hit a deep homer once and think they’re cool. Cough, Desmond Jennings. Cough, Simmons after his sweet World Baseball Classic.
After a GB/FB rate of 1.30 last year, Simmons notched himself the leadoff spot in Atlanta’s Opening Day lineup, but now that rate’s at 0.81 and Simmons OBP has dipped 50 points. His BAbip is lower despite hitting line-drives at a 4% higher rate — yes, LD% is shoddy — and he’s not stealing bases.
Perhaps he’s eating Upton grits or just wants to be crappy like his frand Jason Heyward, but a shortstop without much power and who doesn’t care about it isn’t someone you want to hold on to. In a few of my leagues people are banking him for next year — don’t be one of those guys. Remember, his hot WBC raised his stock this year and now he’s disappointing.
Anthony Rendon (N/A)
326 Minor League plate appearances, 12 homers and a .269 BA in those 326 Minor PAs, an inauspicious injury history that is cropping up yet again this season. Like, what? In Rendon’s spurious defense, he was beloved by GMs around the league, was Baseball America’s #30 prospect pre-2013, and basically has a 1:1 BB:K Minor ratio that denotes a Major approach. That BB:K is inflated to 8:16 during his Nationals time this year, which doesn’t mean much, but am I the only one who thinks inexperience and injuries is disheartening? This guy was basically Axe Body Sprayed — I do play in one league with only bikini-clad women, I just tuck it in — in my leagues upon his call-up earlier this year, and people suspect some super-freak guy with a superior hit-tool. This 2b experiment that has him as the team’s everyday second-baseman obviously sprouts that value, but what could he be next year? Jason Kipnis with a few extra BA notches, less power and less speed? Give me a break. A break, I say.
With a guy like Rendon we can’t look at ADP, but his perceived value right now is probably in the 140.0 range — right around guys like David Freese. Rendon isn’t worth that and you’d be getting gouged for an unpromising guy.
Next week: a look at some pitchers at the deadline with the intention of next year. Hint: Chris Sale won’t be on it.
Follow sha keeper boi on Twitter @TerseRazzball. It’ll help his low self-esteem and he’ll talk to you during his jury duty.