Two years ago I was invited to take over an abandoned roster in a 30-team dynasty league. It looked like what I imagine most abandoned dynasty teams look like – a couple of good players with good contracts, a couple of decent players with bad contracts, and a bunch of horses***. Each roster is capped at 75 players, so there are over 2,200 players owned. There are probably readers out there who scoff at that kind of depth, but for me it was by far the deepest fantasy league I’d ever been in. The biggest problem with righting the ship was the state of the farm. It was just a handful of non-prospects. The previous owner didn’t use all of their available roster slots, so there was no new blood coming in via minor league signing bonuses, etc. Additionally, all of the supplemental draft picks in the prior year were traded in acquiring a “bad” major league contract. I don’t write these details to crap on the previous owner – I don’t even know them and I’m sure they’re a cool person – but rather to illustrate the state of the team and to relate to some of my readers who also find themselves trying to revive a dead roster. So how did I tackle this particular rebuild?Please, blog, may I have some more?
For the uninitiated, a Three True Outcome (TTO) player is one that walks, Ks or homers. That’s it. A famous example of this is Adam Dunn aka The Big Donkey. The Three True Outcome label works for baseball. Real baseball, that is. It doesn’t encapsulate everything for fantasy. That’s where the Donkey label comes in. A Donkey is player that Ks, homers and steals. Big Donkey once stole 19 bases, and perennially stole more than seven bases a year, until he became more Big than Donkey. Mini Donkey, Mark Reynolds, had himself a nice little run for a few years, once stealing 24 bases. Mini Mini Donkey, Ian Stewart, failed to live up to his Donkey expectations. Perhaps the Donkey expectations are what ended up dragging him down, I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist in matters of the donkey. So, hopefully, when we call Joey Gallo, Donkey Dong Jr., we are not putting unrealistic expectations on him. Shame to think Donkey expectations were what did in any player when Donkey expectations mean no harm. Donkey expectations just want a roof over its head, a hot meal and foot rub from a topless dame. Last year, Gallo hit six homers and stole three bases in only 108 at-bats for the Rangers while hitting 14 homers in 53 Triple-A games. Am I reluctantly failing to mention his Ks? If they were as bad as Gallo’s, you’d be reluctant too. Anyway, what can we expect of Joey Gallo for 2016 fantasy baseball?Please, blog, may I have some more?
Yesterday, the Twins traded Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for serial-killer-in-name-only, John Ryan Murphy. Here’s what I said earlier this year, “When Hicks first came up, people thought he was going to be better than that Pollock fella. No, not a stereotypical dumb person, but as in A.J. Pollock. In Double-A, Hicks had 12 homers, 32 steals and a .285 average. Then strikeouts enveloped his game in the majors and he hit .192 with a 27% K-rate in 2013, and hit .215 with a 25% K-rate in 2014, but this year, .277 and a 17% K-rate! That’s a huge improvement. That’s what she said! What?” And that’s me quoting me! On a side note, am I the only that sees K-rate and then tries to chop in half a wooden block while screaming hi-ya? “Today, Daniel-san, we will talk about K-rate.” No? Okay, maybe it’s just me. *Grey does a flying crane kick* “Oh, he’s been practicing his K-rate.” Still nothing? Okay, I’m moving on. One more Pollock comparison that is likely coincidental but I’m gonna throw it out there. Pollock didn’t break out until his age-27 season and Hicks is only 26. Okay, one more Pollock comparison, Pollock never stole 39 bases in the minors leagues, but just did it in the majors. Hicks never stole more than the aforementioned 32 bases, but that means nothing. Okay, fine, one more Pollock comparison! Pollock never hit more than ten homers in the minors and he just hit 20 homers in the majors. So who cares Hicks never hit more than 13 homers in the minors. That’s still above anything Pollock did. Okay, and I really mean it this time, one more comparison to Pollock. The excitement I had last year for A.J. Pollock when I called him a sleeper is nearly identical to the excitement I have right now for Hicks. Okay, okay, one final thing on Pollock! The mistake I made last year when I didn’t draft him after flagging him as a breakout won’t be repeated with Hicks. Let’s go over quickly what Hicks did last year, he hit 11 homers with a 11% home run to fly ball ratio, which is completely repeatable, so last year in 155 games he would’ve had 18 homers. He also had 13 steals and four steals in September. If he stole 4 bags every month, he’d have 24 steals. Last year, he had a .256 batting average with a .285 BABIP, which is low for him. He’s got some speed and a .310 BABIP isn’t out of the question (he had years of a .340+ BABIP in the minors). If he gets to a .310 BABIP, he’s going to hit .270. Really, that’s not a stretch, which is also a nickname no one ever called Altuve. 18 HRs, 24 steals with a .270 average on the year? If he would’ve done that, I’m not sure we’d even be talking about Hicks as a sleeper, but rather as a top 20 outfielder. And this isn’t me fighting hard to get him to these numbers. Like a migrant worker, I’m cherrypicking a little with the steals by saying he’s going to get four a month because he did that in September, except (!) he’s likely closer to a guy that could take six bags per month. When Steamer projects Hicks for 10 HRs and 11 steals with a .256 in 2016, it doesn’t worry me. It actually makes me more excited because that means most people aren’t going to be excited about him. Steamer is very conservative and doesn’t flag breakouts; that’s my job. For 2016, I’ll give Hicks the projections of 82/15/52/.274/26, assuming the Yankees find a way to get him a starting job this offseason, which seems all but assured. So, my question for you is, who’s the Pollock now? Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2016 fantasy baseball:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Oakland’s pitching-friendly park might ding the overall upside of its hitting prospects, but on the flip side the pitching gets a slight boost. The Athletics have a balanced farm with solid prospects both in the box and on the mound. What this organization lacks in blue chip prospects, it makes up for with depth and a slew of players on the verge of joining the show. At the 2015 trade deadline, the A’s turned Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist, and Tyler Clippard into three of the prospects listed below. Billy Burns emerged as a table-setter, while fellow graduate Mark Canha was third on the team in both homers and runs batted in. Oakland will pick sixth overall in the 2016 draft.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Okay, I cheated to come up with the rookies to do a fantasy outlook post on. I asked Prospect Mike for his top ten prospects that will impact fantasy baseball in 2016. I didn’t necessarily lean over and read off of PM’s test, but before the exam, I said, “Listen, Prospect Mike, we’re either gonna have words after school or you’re gonna let me look at your top ten fantasy baseball prospect list.” What was PM to do? Show me a PSA on bullying done by Chris Pratt? I’d bully Chris Pratt too if I had a chance, so I don’t listen to some PSA done by a celebrity in exchange for a reduction to their community service. Why now do I reveal my deck that is filled with 52 aces? Because I didn’t have a clue who Nomar Mazara was, but PM is hyped up on him like Lady Gaga gets hyped up about meat dresses. After doing some research, you could now say I… *pinkie to mouth* Nomar. Though I still think Mazara sounds like a character actor that would appear in a John Cassavetes film. If you’re like me and thinking, “Mazara? Did he co-star with Seymour Cassel?” Then, I’ll catch you up. Mazara came on this year like a contestant on Wipeout that doesn’t get knocked down once. A rare feat, I know. He hit 13 HRs and stole two bags in Double-A, while hitting .284. Bleh, whatever, right? Yeah, he was the 4th youngest player in Double-A. He’s only 20 years old. Then, in Triple-A after his promotion, he hit .358. Here’s what Prospect Mike said last year, “Now that Nomar’s arguably the best outfield prospect in baseball, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him taken in the later rounds of 2016 redraft leagues either.” The best outfield prospect in baseball? That gets me jacked like I just downed five Red Bulls without the resulting thyroid problems. Anyway, what can we expect of Nomar Mazara for 2016 fantasy baseball?Please, blog, may I have some more?
In my 2016 fantasy baseball rookies series that has a spinoff in the works titled, 2016 Fantasy Baseball Rookies: The College Years, I try to keep these rookies juicy as all get-out. Like the hype for said player is so juicy it can only be described as drip-down-the-chin juicy. It is more juicy than the seat of Kim Kardashian’s sweatpants that actually read Juicy! With that said (grab onto something, Grey’s turning the ship!), Hector Olivera isn’t that juicy. Maybe it’s being on the Braves that sucks the juicy out of him. To find out, let me do an experiment. *rolls an elderly man into the room* The Braves! *elderly man yawns* The Rockies at home! *elderly man gasps, clutching his heart* That experiment confirms my suspicions. The Braves just aren’t that exciting. *turns back to elderly man* I’ll call the paramedic when I’m done with the post. There’s no cure for this yawnstipation, as far as I can see. The one good thing about a rookie playing on the Braves is I’d be shocked if Olivera doesn’t play from day one and get penciled in at the top of the order. I mean who else do the Braves have? Adorable Adonis Garcia? Ryan Lavarnway and Shirley? Nick Swisher’s Sideburns? I don’t think the Sideburns can even play 3rd base. I mean, they’re just hair. Anyway, what can we expect of Hector Olivera for 2016 fantasy baseball?Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Brewers picked up three solid prospects in trades this past summer – acquiring Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips, and Zach Davies. Santana has already graduated and should be an interesting power upside play in 2016, while Davies should start the year in the rotation. Phillips migh have the most upside of any of them, but likely won’t reach the majors until 2017. After being one of the weaker systems entering the 2015 season, these trades and the 2015 draft have done a lot to bolster the farm. They’ll add another strong piece this summer with the fifth pick in the MLB draft.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The first thing I like to do for all prospects, Aaron Judge included, is look up their video highlights, because I’m not familiar with them as much as I want to be. Aaron Judge looks like Giancarlo Stanton. A few things on comparing him to Giancarlo. I did it first, then Googled Aaron Judge + Giancarlo and a lot, I mean, a lot of people have compared the two. That means nothing, because now I’m comparing him to Giancarlo and Giancarlo is my novio and we have a daughter together that we named Giancarla, so when I compare someone to Giancarlo, it is said with profound love and a sharp crease in my khakis. I don’t think I’ve ever compared another player to Giancarlo before. That is the kind of praise Aaron Judge is currently receiving. If Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall would’ve starred in a movie about this Judge, the movie would’ve been good. You feel me? Okay, stop touching me now. Judge looks like he could hit 40 homers with the Yankees tomorrow. That’s, of course, if there were games tomorrow. (Only 140 more days without baseball!) I don’t think Judge is 100% butter, i.e., as good as Giancarlo. I’m not just saying that because Giancarlo and I have matching tattoos. The stats seem to bear that out, or bare if you’re a nudist. In Double-A, Judge hit 12 homers in 63 games at the age of 23. Giancarlo hit 21 homers in 53 games in Double-A at the age of 20, then hit 20 homers that same year with the Marlins. Giancarlo is a once-in-a-decade bat; Judge is similar, just not quite there, which in itself is very impressive. And it’s not just that Judge stands six-seven and is 230 pounds bone-dry. His swing looks like my Gian-novio. Judge is a giant beast of a man and mollywhops with the best of them. This is not fiction, this is biographical, researchable evidence. Anyway, what can we expect of Aaron Judge for 2016 fantasy baseball?Please, blog, may I have some more?
If you are a true fantasy baseballer (<–my mom’s term!), then when you read Byron Buxton‘s name in the title, you waved yourself with a handkerchief like you were Scarlett O’Hara and stutter-stepped like you might pass out. That’s how sexy Buxton is. Another sign of his sexiness, I searched his name on the top right of the site and there were ten pages of results with ten results on each page. 100 posts about Buxton and he’s still a rookie! This is like the chicken and the egg. Are we victims of the hype and hence there’s that many posts about him or are we perpetuating the hype by writing that many posts about him? Brucely, my dear, I don’t give a damn! At this point, you might be asking your mirror, “You, with the handsome head of hair that you paste onto your head every morning, why is Buxton hyped? Wasn’t he garbage last year?” You’re right, you, you smart person you. Buxton was awful this past year in his small cup of coffee; let’s say his espresso was bitter and no amount of lemon rind was helping it. In 138 plate appearances, he had 129 at-bats. Doesn’t that tell you so much? Okay, how about the .209 average with two homers and two steals with two times caught stealing. Does that round out the picture of crapitude he was sporting? Must I remind you that Trout’s first espresso was awful too? Ciao, faccia brutta! Anyway, what can we expect of Byron Buxton for 2016 fantasy baseball?Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Colorado farm is full of tasty fantasy prospects, with five names that could easily slot into a Top 50 overall. You’re going to have to tread carefully here with pitching prospects, but despite the unfriendly home territory there are still three arms that are worth looking into for dynasty leagues. On the hitting side, there’s a bunch of high-upside youngsters who may one day call the best hitter’s environment in baseball their home. While we didn’t see many graduations in 2015, we did get to watch Nolan Arenado evolve from a potential monster into an actual monster…so that was fun. After picking third overall in 2015 – and making good use of it with Brendan Rodgers – the Rockies will pick fourth overall in the 2016 draft. That should give them another blue chip prospect to add to their collection.Please, blog, may I have some more?