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Spring Training Sleeper Watch: American League West Edition

One of my favorite traditions as a young fan was Peter Gammons profiling each team’s spring training focus points. 

I loved the spittle and shake of his voice, the depth of his details, and especially how he always shot the segments in front of people playing catch, gloves popping symphonically as we imagine the impossible topside of Rich Harden.

It’s in that spirit that I begin our next prospect series—one that works in concert with Razzball’s Gammonsian team previews and one that involves a few nods to some non-prospects. Graduating from eligibility requirements doesn’t mean you’re a known quantity, nor that you’ve graduated to an everyday opportunity. Yesterday’s failed prospects are often tomorrow’s sleepers, so let’s take a lap around the division looking for some fantasy profit. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We know spring training is fully underway when a bunch of arms break. We’re sure to see more as soreness becomes less general and more devastating to our early drafts. The four-tier format is back for our closer report. This week, pandemic foodstuff themed tiers. I’d laugh but for fear that might cause me to cough resulting in those nearby turning mob justice on me. Let’s get to some news and notes on the reliever front first.

  • Emmanuel Clase – He of the hardest cutter in baseball is starting his Cleveland career off on a sour note. A back strain will likely sideline him for 8-12 weeks. This opens the door for fellow reliever wunderkind James Karinchak to solidify a leverage role. If you want a job relieving for Cleveland just have a hard to spell name, throw gas, and be in your early 20’s.
  • Jose Alvarado – Don’t look now but Alvarado looks sharp as ever. But Roto-Wan, Nick Anderson is *the* it closer of draft season?!? I have no issue with Anderson’s stuff, just his role. He factors into their ninth inning, no doubt. Let me ask you this, though. He saved some games for them last year since they’re a team that’s the most progressive in leverage roles, right? No? Ok, well he came over from Miami, who’s bullpen was a collection of molding leftovers. He racked up a bunch of saves there, surely? How about one save. Well, at least he’s a young prospect? Turns 30 in June. I don’t mean to rain on your Nick Anderson parade, and by “don’t” I mean I do, but he’s far from a lock. I’m betting on Alvarado seeing some of their saves as the lefty side of a committee in every league I draft that uses RPs.
  • Brandon Kintzler – Things are not off to a great start this spring for the presumptive Marlins closer. Like, walking four straight batters bad. I’d consider a spec play on Ryne Stanek early on.
  • Ryan Helsley – I’m not the Helsley guy but some people I respect (see: Matt Thompson, Nick Pollack) have made it a point to draft the young Cardinal in the late rounds. Their ninth inning is a mess to predict, as usual. Helsley also has an outside shot at the rotation it seems, depending on the health of their assumed starters.
  • Trevor Rosenthal – Rosie is the latest zombie reliever. He’s always been able to light up radar guns. He just has zero command at times, as in most of the time. The command seems to be there this spring, however. KC would love to add any talent it can to baseball’s most mediocre bullpen.
  • Please, blog, may I have some more?

I only wish Madison Bumgarner fractured his hand after every single person drafted, because I knew I was never drafting him.  Terrible thing to say?  Perhaps, but I’m not the poor schnook who was still drafting him after I said for the last three months to not draft him.  I even put him in a tier originally in the top 20 starters that said, DO NOT DRAFT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.  Okay, not in that tall of a font, but the sentiment was all over that tier.  I said specifically, “This is just like the above tier, and I will be avoiding it, but rather than the above guys who I actually like, just won’t draft, I do not like the guys in this tier, and would never draft them at their price.  So, while I wouldn’t draft the above guys, I really wouldn’t draft these guys.  Got it?  Cool.”  And that’s me quoting me!  Of course, I can’t claim prescience that I knew he’d be hit by a comebacker, but will I anyway?  Hmm…  Why not?!  Prescience ain’t just a word on my Word of the Day calendar that I got in a Secret Santa!  So, I’ve dropped Bumgarner in the rankings, and adjusted his projections accordingly.  My Fantasy Baseball War Room gets updated on the reg, as well.

Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for 2018 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Wanna take a guess at who the title is?  Anagrams are fun, and by fun, I mean about as fun as going to a baseball game and staying sober.  Since that first sentence merely took eight seconds to read, I would assume that your guess of Fernando Valenzuela was wrong.  The real answer is Amed Rosario.  I could have went with endless possibilities, but a “sore diorama” sounds like a science fair experiment gone wrong.  So onto the SAGNOF usefulness for the man that could have been “armoire soda,” but alas the diorama wins.  Over the last 15 games with the Mets on coast mode to losing, the question is: are they in a coasting mode for losing and futility?  Anyways, over his last 15 games, he has a .364 batting average, a .391 OBP, 7 runs, and the all important 3 steals.  He never exuded elite-type speed in the minors, maxing out at 19 across two levels this year and last.  So the speed could be blossoming like the ability to make pumpkin spice anything nowadays and have lonely single people furnish an entire apartment with it. With the season less than two weeks from finish, look high, look low, look Amed Rosario.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

If you’re at all familiar with management theory, then you’re probably aware generally of the “Peter Principle”. The concept is simple, managers rise to the level of their incompetence. Here’s where you think about your current manager, and snicker. Are you done? Okay, so it’s concept that many of us can relate to, some of us first hand. But what does this have to do with the subject of today’s profile Marlins starter Dillon Peters? Ahhh, his name is Peters? It works right? But perhaps there’s more there. Or maybe I’m overthinking. Yeah, totally overthinking it. Then again, is it possible that Peters has risen to his own level of potential incompetence here in the Bigs? His numbers over the last two years in the minors have been phenomenal, rarely letting up multiple earned runs in a game. In fact over the last two years, across 37 starts between high A and AA, Peters has amassed a 21-9 record with a 2.11 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .224 BAA,  7.5 K/9, and 1.74 Bb/9. While allowing just 5 balls to leave the park in 191.2 innings. So to say he’s on a great run the last few years is an understatement. Will that continue here in the majors or is he due for a heavy regression? Through Peters first few starts he’s been solid but lucky. I actually intended to profile his start last Tuesday at Philadelphia, but pivoted to Sunday’s turn for the rescheduled home game vs the Brew Crew. I figured in case things went awry in Milwaukee recency bias would win out. Here’s what I saw.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

To anyone from Southeastern Massachusetts my title means something to you. If you’re anything like me it signifies the first time in your life you were severely disappointed. I can still remember packing into my parent’s station wagon with another family my parents were friendly with. We were headed to the “World Famous King Richard’s Faire“. Six year old Ralph couldn’t believe I was headed to THE fair of THE King Richard. I mean he was the best king ever, and here I am headed to his fair! Me, lowly 6 year old Ralph with a golden bowl cut! Welp, much like everything else in life since, it was a massive disappointment. What was supposed to be a day of jousts, knights, kings and princesses, quickly turned into reality. That reality was drunk bikers with swords, mutton, and the inescapable smell of feces and urine. The strangest part is it smelt just as much like urine as it did poop. It was as if the two smells were competing for dominance, each pushing itself to it’s limits but neither overtaking the other. Needless to say I never went back. I could have, but I did better things with my time like drinking or masturbating. What does this have to do with Garrett Richards and his most recent start? Well let’s just say I was excited, only to be disappointed. That’s my big market tease, trust me you’re bound to be disappointed…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When you were a kid, did you ever receive a formal invitation and it was addressed like this, “Master Albright?”  Okay, now think about Harrison Bader getting a formal invite.  I’m dead.  That legit made me laugh for twenty minutes.  I stopped midway to breath from an oxygen tank, but a full twenty minutes, nevertheless.  Imagine this:  Mom, “Harrison, come here and open your auntie’s wedding invite?”  “Why does it say, Master Bader?”  Dad, “You’ll know in a few years, son.”  Not to mention, Master makes every little boy sound like the kid in The Toy.  S’lame!  I don’t even want to Google the origins for calling a boy, Master, because it’s prolly hella racist.  Any hoo!  Harrison Bader is playing every day, but the Cards do have 19 outfielders to juggle, so he’s not 100% guaranteed.  He is hitting for power and average, and at the top of the lineup.  With the Cards trying to make the playoffs, they’re putting their best lineup on the field and Bader has been a part of that.  Even if Master Bader sounds like he wouldn’t play well with others.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Psyche!  Before we get into the Buy, I just wanted to mention our Fantasy Football tools.  Freudian, because this is my Buy and this would be your buy?  P to the erhaps.  But no purchase necessary, there’s a 7-day free trial, so you can give them a whirlybird for the first week if you like.  Anyway II, the Buy/Sell:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Ender Inciarte went 8-for-10 with two runs, 5 RBIs and two steals (18, 19), hitting .310.  That’s a doubleheader that would’ve made Ernie Banks blush.  And Ernie only blushed one time that we know of, the time Ernie confused Fergie Jenkins with Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas late one night at Harry Caray’s.  “Yo, Ernie, what you talkin’ about with my humps, my lovely little lumps?  And I don’t know what I’m going to do with the junk in my trunk, why do you keep asking?  You holding a garage sale?”  I don’t know why I enjoy the sweet stylings of Ender Inciarte so much.  I kinda hate guys like Adam Eaton, and we should call Ender, “Cheap Eats with Some Indian Guy Named Khan,” because he is nothing more than a cheap Eaton.  Maybe it’s because Ender always comes at a discounted rate to go with his “Yes, You Khan Cheap Eats” shizz.  Though, he is a fantasy beast for supporting actual beasts.  In other words, Ender is not making or breaking your team, but when you have guys that hit 40 HRs and .250, guys like Ender make all the difference as supplements.  “Did someone say supplements?”  What the hell are you doing here, Bonds?  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There’s a narrative making the rounds that today’s Pitching Profile subject Collin McHugh just started throwing a slider. This on it’s face isn’t completely true, his repertoire included a slider two years ago, but he scrapped it in 2016 in favor of a cutter. So the “throwing a slider now” people are insane, and this is open and shut case. Right, Ralphie?” Actually, their narrative is partially correct, because while he did formerly throw a slider he didn’t go back to the pitch he scrapped before last season. He’s throwing a different slider. A reworked version he picked up from clubhouse showboat Brad Peacock. Who picked the pitch up from some shoe salesman named Jordan Jankowski, who picked his up from a decoder ring at the bottom of a box of Count Chocula. Anyway, back in 2015 when McHugh experienced a break through with the Astros, he threw his “old” slider nearly 45% of the time. It’s funny that everyone forgot he threw a slider back then, considering it accounted for such a high chunk of his usage. In fact he threw his breaking pitches, (he also has a high spin-rate curveball), 67.1% of the time.  Leading his 27.2% fastball usage to rank as the second lowest in the majors behind only R.A. Dickey during the 2015 season. Before 2016 began McHugh’s usage of his ineffective slider was scrapped completely for a cutter, and an increased reliance on his hook. The results didn’t change, in fact in someways they got worse, but that’s not important, and here’s why. Fast forward to 2017, and McHugh missed a majority of the season’s first half with an elbow injury. The player that has emerged since is a completely different animal. Throwing his fastball more than 50% of time, and with a new and improved low 80’s slider, one with increased movement from his former offering. The question for today, “Is this a new and improved model or just a redesigned Grand Am?”  Let’s look under the hood and see.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Open Up and Buy AH, because owning Aaron Hicks is Nothin’ But A Good Time!  Also, a good time is searching any girl’s name from Rock of Love with your parental controls turned off.  Okay, I have a few Bee Tee Dubs here.  Unless you have a child, you don’t set parental controls on your TV.  You can filter what you see without magically stumbling on porn.  The internet though?  You need parental controls on it, no matter if you’re home, at work, 12 years old, 64 years old, at school or on the john.  You can Google something as innocuous as “cucumber” with no parental controls and all hell breaks loose in your search results.  “Oh em gee, I just wanted a recipe for a cucumber salad!”  Bee tee dubya II, we’re due for a terrible 80’s hair band renaissance.  Someone needs to do a cover of a Poison song.  Bee tee dubya III, there is no bee tee dubya III.  Bee tee dubya IV, I have this nugget in my brain that says, even though I was only 14 years old, I knew how awful Poison was at the time.  Like, when they did Your Mama Don’t Dance, a big part of me knew they were absolutely terrible, even then.  Any hoo!  Hey, any hoo’s initials are Aaron Hicks.  Coinkydink?  Thinks not.  He’s on a 162-game pace of 25 HRs, 15 SBs and a .280 average.  Of course, that doesn’t matter.  We just want a hot player at this point, and, on our 7-day Player Rater, he’s near top 75, and should be owned everywhere.  Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?