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You’re the only one here. And I’m talking directly to you. You, unlike so many who lost their fateful battle with attrition and the baseball season’s relentless length that still persists, are still frequenting fantasy baseball sites because you, Great One, have made your fantasy league’s playoffs. You’re currently face-to-face, hand-to-hand with some scum who dares vie to destroy you and ruin your winter — except, of course, for fantasy football. You, my friend, are smarter than everyone else — you’ve gotten this far and there’s no looking back now. You’re so close to victory and a bundle of jelly beans and winter-long cloud-nine, you… oh, you’re not in the playoffs? That’s why you’re reading a fantasy-keepers column? Your winter’s already ruined and you’re here to commiserate with fellow losers and quixotically dream big about 2014 and the glory it will bring you? Now, now, we’re here. We’re here to help you pick the right keepers for next year. Loser.

I, though, am not in your boat — and if I was, I wouldn’t tell you, because I have a credibility to hold. I write a lot about fantasy baseball and therefore am pretty good at it, so I’m in the playoffs in three out of four leagues. But, with just as much of-courseness as my not being in your boat, I’m also a keeper writer, so write about keepers I will. Because I love you. I… love… you, poor fantasy player. I love you. Let’s figure out how to salvage 2013.

Starlin Castro (35th overall, $25 to start 2013; 90th, $12 next year)

There’s a school of thought in baseball that coaches shouldn’t try to change players into whom they want them to be, but to construct a team based on players’ abilities. That is, solving that puzzle so that each player, doing his own thing the best he can, will be doing it in the right spot for the team to succeed. This is kind of where the new strikeout-who-cares philosophy has come from. “A player is who he is, and if he’s good at one thing, don’t change him to try and get better at something else.”

There’s a logical point there.

Unfortunately, Castro’s not really that good at any one good thing. For his strikeout rate, he doesn’t have enough power, and for his speed, he doesn’t get on base enough. Except for a freakishly low .290 BAbip, Castro’s not really doing anything different than he’s always done… except for striking out more, which is obviously an alarming transgression. He’s actually overmatched more now than he was when he came up as a 20-year-old. He’s declining at the exact time he’s supposed to be improving.

Earlier this year I thought he’d turn it around by year’s end, and he has a little — he’s hit in 11 of his past 12 games — but regardless of how he ends this season, Castro’s draft position will sink way below where it floated in the beginning of 2013. You won’t get value, and at this rate won’t be getting much production. There’s still hope — even if he’s not improving at 23, he’s still 23—but the decrease in ADP makes keeping him a waste.

Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera’s sure got some great numbers this year, but his K rate, HR/FB, and LD% are all declining. Better to abandon the ship one year earlier than one year late. LOL, jk.

Carl Crawford (138th, $8 this year; 78th, $14 in 2014)

You could make the argument that Crawford’s like Castro. His season totals will depress his ADP come Draft Day 2014, but Crawford will be right in the mix of what will be an awesome Dodgers outfield to start next year — Andre Ethier probably won’t be with the team, and if he is, he won’t be an everyday player. “Ethier’s unmovable! 6 years/$95.5 million!” you say? You’d have a point if Crawford wasn’t in the middle of 7 years/$142 million. Lol, the Red Sox. Oh right, they got bailed out. Yes, I Googled “sad gif”, and I picked that one.

The cumulative stats aren’t pretty, but Crawford — when he plays this season — is back to Tampa Bay Crawford. He’s got the highest contact rate he’s had since 2004 (83%), is back up to a 23% LD-rate, is only striking out 13.7% of the time compared to walking 7%, and is right on par with his 0.98 career GB/FB. His HR/FB is at an improvable 3.7%, and I think the power/speed/average/consistency combo that he was in Tampa returns for 2014. He’ll hit atop a great Dodgers lineup that’ll (maybe) have a healthy Matt Kemp, and should score plenty of runs and steal bases again. 33 isn’t young, but he should be even healthier next year. The peripherals are there and the hype will be there next year.

Yoenis Cespedes (50th, $20 in 2013; 100th, $11 in 2014)

An increased LD%, higher contact rate, the same HR/FB, same IF/FB, yet a BAbip at .266 and 80 points lower than last year’s, which naturally begs the question: Who’s the real Yoenis? Which naturally begs the answer: Somewhere in between. Unfortunately, somewhere in between is not what merits a top-20 outfielder.

The power is legit, but will he stay healthy? Does his health risk limit his homer cap around 25-30 homers? Will he run less because of the risk? Yeah, I think he will. He’s better than he’s been this year and he’s shown it, but paying a similar price next year to what you paid this year would be paying a huge surplus.

Ian Desmond (60th, $18 in 2013; 30th, $25 in 2014)

It took me a while to hop on, but I’m riding Desmond. You can take that how you will.

You can excuse an increased strikeout rate when a guy is hitting line-drives 25% of the time he puts a ball into play and produces 20/20 with a plus average. He’ll be the five-hitter in a lineup that’s a lot better than it’s been this season, and will have plenty of run-scoring and run-driving-in opportunities. He’s got the speed to retain the highest BAbip of his career — .341 (especially with that LD rate).

After a 5.9% and 4.% HR/FB in 2010 and 2011, respectively, Desmond’s rates have climbed to 13.8% and 10.8% in 2012 and 2013. You’d expect those rates to drop a bit to around 8%, but an 8% HR/FB and plus-average from a shortstop is fantasy gold. He’s exceeding expectations despite a disappointing Nationals season that was devoid of Adam Laroche and a consistently healthy Bryce Harper, so the opportunities will only go up next year — the fantasy world will know that.

Terse spoke about leap-of-faith keepers last week for those who might not be in the position to keep guys like those listed above. You can find that column here. If you don’t know what this article’s title means, go here. Follow Terse on Twitter @TerseRazzball, because he’s a loser in real life and needs digital friends to make him feel better.

33 Responses

  1. G says:
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    Have a bye for first round and trying to make any last minute moves for next week. Have Castro as my only SS as of now. Should I drop him or make another roster drop for any of the following SS: Akbar, dozier, Simmons, coz art, Aviles? Thanks on advance

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @G: Not knowing what you’re week in statistically, I’d stick with the Starlin

      • Terse

        Terse says:
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        @Terse: weak*

        • G says:
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          @Terse:
          Teams pretty well balanced bit was thinking of dozier since he’s been kinda hot

          • Terse

            Terse says:
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            @G: He was close, but I’d still want Castro. Might not be a bad idea to make room for Dozier, though.

  2. gareth says:
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    I had cespedes and s. castro on my team this year. Not fun.

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @gareth: Nosireebob

  3. Justin says:
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    Ive been high on the castro cronic since his call up way back on the same day I was watching Steven Strausburg pitch in Syracuse new York for the sky chiefs… I still remember sitting next to two 40 something guys talking about fantasy baseball and how I had made a better trade then a buddy of mine…. long story short I have either drafted or traded for castro ever since….. My dilemma is this…… I took over a team at the end of last year that was horrendous. I have been trying to rebuild since day one and I had thought I made a great trade earlier this year when I got Castro and 2 high picks for Shelby miller and 2 mid round picks.. all in all I thought it was a great trade for me… turns out it was the beginning of the end for me…

    Is castro worth keeping out of this group of pontential keepers… btw we keep 7 and OPS is an extra cat.

    Rizzo,Kinsler,Castro,Yelich,Granderson,Taveras,Jennings,GyorkoAnibal,Ryu,Iwakuma,Cobb,R.Soriano.

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @Justin: Wow, that’s tough. I like Taveras and Jennings, Anibal, Ryu, Iwakuma. Like Rizzo Castro, Kinsler. Could lose one of the pitchers to justify keeping Castro.

      I still like hte trade you made.

  4. Terse

    Terse says:
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    Wow, that’s tough. I like Taveras and Jennings, Anibal, Ryu, Iwakuma. Like Rizzo Castro, Kinsler. Could lose one of the pitchers to justify keeping Castro.

    I still like hte trade you made.

  5. English says:
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    Terse, I have a keeper question for you. I took over a team about a month ago who were massively out of contention and managed to pick up a few players for next year like Bogaerts, C-Mart and d’Arnaud but it’s keep 10 plus 8 minors. I’ve got my minors sorted and 6 definite major leaguers but not sure on the other 4.

    Who do you think? I was going to keep Ortiz but injuries are catching up to him a bit and I’m on the fence (offered him up in a trade to try to get Taveras). Who else do you think?

    K Seager
    P Alvarez
    As Cabrera
    M Brantley
    D Ortiz
    T Frazier
    M Choice

    J Peavy
    T Cahill
    M Estrada
    D Gee
    U Jimenez
    C Kluber
    B Beachy
    D Farquhar

    There are also a few prospects available who I could stash hoping they’ll have an impact next year – Maikel Franco, David Dahl, Joc Pederson, Tyler Skaggs, Alex Colome, Matt Barnes, Yordana Ventura, Tyler Glasnow. Or I could take a flyer on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and/or Jose Abreu?

    Thanks for the help bro.

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @English: I’m not a big fan of any of these guys—I can see why you said “massively out of contention”. Ten of those, I’d keep Seager, Alvarez, Ortiz, Peavy, Kluber, Gee, Pederson, Skaggs, Dahl, Cabrera. No problem

      • English says:
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        @Terse:
        No only 4 of those. The actual 6 good players (4 of which I’ve traded for) I’ve already decided on. The team was a complete car wreck.

        I was thinking Ortiz and Peavy then 2 of Seager, Alvarez, Frazier, Kluber or a couple of prospects. Are you not high on Frazier next year? He’s been kind of streaky this year but the power is there.

        Got to love what Pederson brings but cant see a spot for him in LA at the minute. Do you see him getting enough PA next year to take him above someone like Franco?

        I appreciate the input. Thanks.

        • Terse

          Terse says:
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          @English: Ortiz, Peavy, Seager, Alvarez, definitely.

    • AJ says:
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      @English: Love Pederson & Glasnow if I’m being completely honest.

  6. Paul says:
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    Crawford eaton or cecpedes the rest of year in a h2h espn??
    What’s ur order?

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @Paul: Crawf, eaton, ces

  7. Jason says:
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    Would keep Desmond over profar? K owing that throwing either back would eliminate any chance of reacquiring either.

    Current keepers in a 16 tm h2h lg:
    Encarnacion machado mccutchen heyward wainwright Matt Moore hamels
    And then either Desmond or profar.

    Thoughts?

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @Jason: Keep Desmond.

  8. AJ says:
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    14-team, 10-keeper salary league (we use the previous year’s salary, so in 2014 the players will cost their 2013 salary – we have randomly-drawn salary caps ranging between 100-140M):

    My certain keepers:
    1B – Eric Hosmer
    3B – Manny Machado
    SS – Starlin Castro
    CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
    RF – Wil Myers
    SP – Jered Weaver
    SP – Chris Sale
    SP – Jose Fernandez
    RP – Kenley Jansen

    Now my last keeper can either be Yoenis Cespedes ($8.5M – LF eligibility only) or Daniel Murphy ($2.92M – 2B elig). This would have been a no brainer, but now I’m starting to covet the little-bit-of-everything 2B over the under performing LF. I’m going to have money problems because I went over budget this year, so the small savings is a nice bonus too. LF are so easy to find, but if he’s hitting 80/25/80/10 with a .260 avg, than that’s better than most. What do you think?

    • AJ says:
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      @AJ: Technically could keep others such as Khris Davis (MIL), Robbie Grossman (HOU), Travis d’Arnaud (NYM), or Jared Cosart (HOU) – but I thought the real decision came between Murphy & Cespedes.

      • Terse

        Terse says:
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        @AJ: hey AJ, I feel ya—Cespedes is frustrating. But keeping D. Murphy isn’t going to help at all. plenty of similar production elsewhere. Cespedes’s upside makes him the guy you want.

        • AJ says:
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          @Terse: Thanks for getting back to me. But is there really plenty of similar production at 2B? Especially in a 14-team league. Kinsler will be available, but would cost a first round draft pick (if he’s even still there when I get up) and even he is 3 years older and regressed to the point that his stats are worse than Murphy’s. There’s always going to be a LF to toss in or ride a hot streak, but when 2b is much, much tougher – hence my hesitation.

          • Terse

            Terse says:
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            @AJ: Cespedes is the guy to keep

            • AJ says:
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              @Terse:

              I guess I was just hoping for a little more insight as to why. I don’t necessarily disagree, but the claim that “keeping Murphy isn’t going to help (me) at all” makes me hesitate. I think the logic would apply in a smaller league with fewer keepers.

              I just keep thinking back to before I had Murphy. Kinsler got hurt for a month or so and I was forced to start the likes of Derek Dietrich and Jordy Mercer. So if I keep Cespedes and am not able to get Murphy back in the draft, the caliber of starters deteriorates immensely. Whereas left field always has someone to start – even if it’s just a one-stat guy. I don’t know – I’d love to hear more of your thoughts if you have an opportunity to discuss it in more detail.

              Thanks!!!

  9. Brian says:
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    So, terse, some questions since your articles are so good (seriously)

    Tulo or Strasburg to keep? (along with Cabrera, trout, machado, cutch)
    Wil Myers, profar, Pedro Alvarez, or Castro? (with goldschmidt, puig, machado, cano
    Kluber or Sal Perez? ( too many other keepers

    All are in a vacuum, no inflation?

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @Brian: with this four hitters, I think you can justify keeping Strasburg. Also, Wil Myers of the second set, and Sal Perez in the third set. and thanks for the kind words!

  10. T.J. says:
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    15 Team Auction League, $260 budget, 3 keepers, 5×5 roto league. Keepers go for 25% of their previous year value. Categories are R, TB, RBI, SB, OBP, K, QS, SV, ERA, and WHIP. There is a minimum keeper value of $12. Who would you pick of the following? (the value is their keeper value for 2014)
    Patrick Corbin – $12
    Anibal Sanchez – $15
    Jayson Werth – $12
    James Shields – $19
    Bartolo Colon – $12
    Jarrod Parker – $12
    Curtis Granderson – $20
    Howie Kendrick – $12
    Ricky Nolasco – $12

    • AJ says:
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      @T.J.: I’m sure Terse is the opinion you value, but just because I can’t resist “playing along,” I’d go with 3 pitchers: Shields, Parker & Corbin. A case could be made for Granderson if he returns to full health next year, but I think the better value is in the arms. With QS over wins, you don’t have to worry about run support so that definitely helps Shields and Corbin, even though both could rack up a good win total. Corbin wore down in the second half and has been pretty ugly these last few weeks – but still maintains a 1.09 WHIP and an ERA under 3. And then Parker I love, but I’m sure he’d be on anyone’s top 3 of that list.

    • Terse

      Terse says:
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      @T.J.: Hey! Sorry I overlooked this. I’d go with Corbin, Granderson, and Shields

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