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:
Greg Bird – Yanks GM Cashman said that unless there’s an injury to Teixeira or A-Rod, Bird will start the year in the minors. Then an A-Rod voodoo doll fell out of Cashman’s pocket, then as he bent over to pick it up, he ‘accidentally’ tossed the voodoo doll in front of an 18-wheeler.
Byung-ho Park – The Twins posted the money to talk to Park, and I’m assuming they’re gonna sign him. True story, I went to a Korean baseball database to find Byung-ho Park’s stats, but first I wanted to see again what Jung-ho Kang had done in Korea, so I typed into the search field “Kang.” There were two pages of results. A Dong Woo Kang, a Sung Woo, a Sang Soo, a Jang Ho, the Jung Ho and, the lesser known to you, Han Wool. That reminds me, when I was younger, I used to wear Han Wool while I got a Dong Woo. Any hoo! (Or maybe that’s Any Ho!) I found the info I was looking for (Kang hit 40 homers in his last season in Korea.) Another tidbit I came across was ex-major leaguer Eric Thames hit 47 homers in Korea this past year. He’s 28 years old. Know who else is 28 years old? Byung-ho Park, and he hit 53 homers last year in Korea. Another major league washout, Yamaico Navarro hit 48 homers last year in Korea in his age 27 season. Yamaico’s claim to fame was Brad Ausmus trying to put him on his head for Jewish ceremonies, and hitting two homers in 79 games in the majors. Thames did better in the majors, but still not great, which is why he’s in Korea. Kang didn’t do poorly last year in his initial MLB season (15 HRs, .287), but he obviously didn’t have the same level of success as in Korea. Since every player is different, I’m not saying Byung-ho will come here and put up a 15-18 HR season while hitting .280, but Korea to the U.S. is a difficult transition, so I also wouldn’t expect much more. For 2016, I’d expect Eric Hosmer at the top end and Adam Lind at the low end. I’ll give Park the projections of 72/20/79/.272/2 if the Twins sign him.
Brad Miller – Acquired by the Rays with Logan Morrison and Danny Farquhar back in early November. A trade in early November? I feel like Fetty Wap when he accidentally puts a pirate eye patch on the wrong eye. I can’t be seeing this right. But that’s what the news outlets are telling me. I actually print out news articles and then paste them around my house on top of electrical outlets, because I’m carrying on for Big Pun. Miller gets a small boost getting out of Seattle, because A) The Mariners never felt fully committed to him. B) Safeco. C) There’s no C. Tropicana isn’t exactly Coors and the Rays don’t commit to anyone at any position either, so Miller is likely still going to Tokyo Drift around the field. For 2016, I’ll give Miller the projections of 54/14/60/.261/12 in 450 ABs.
Nate Karns – Sent the other way in the Rays/Mariners trade. Also going to the Mariners was C.J. Riefenhauser and Boog Powell. Great pickup with Boog; now Safeco will be the best place to get legit BBQ in the Pacific Northwest. Nobody does barbecue like Boog Powell! As for Karns, he was a streamer in 12-team and shallower leagues last year, and I still see that likely happening. He does get Safeco now, though, so there’s a chance he goes from streamer in April to being ownable in all leagues by May. For 2016, I’ll give him the projections of 11-8/3.77/1.25/162 in 170 innings.
Josh Hamilton – Underwent another procedure on his knee because it had been almost a month since his last one. Gotta fill up that stamp card!
Dylan Bundy – Shut down in the AFL after a setback. If setbacks are a category in your league, I’d take a long look at Bundy.
Stephen Strasburg – Had a non-cancerous growth removed from his back about a month ago. The technical term for that is mela-no-more.
Albert Pujols – Had foot surgery for his plantar fasciitis that was about five years overdue. Typical recovery time is four and half months. *counts down months with fingers, lowers one finger with December, lowers 2nd finger for January, lowers 3rd finger for February, lowers 4th finger for March, chops fifth finger in half* That takes us to around March/April. Wouldn’t shock me to hear all during spring training about how Pujols will miss the first month of the season, then around Opening Day we’ll hear how he’s due back the first week of the season.
Michael Brantley – Underwent shoulder surgery and will miss five to six months. *tries to tape together fifth finger, it falls off* Okay, I’m gonna go out on a limb without the use of my fingers to help me count and say Brantley will be back some time around the end of April. Perhaps even earlier.
Lance Lynn – Underwent Tommy John surgery and will be sidelined all of the 2016 season. In related news, Dr. James Andrews just bought a Ferrari to take him from his front door, down his driveway to the door of his Lamborghini.
Carlos Quentin – Announced that he is going to attempt a comeback. I suggest he read Don Rickles’s autobiography. Announcing you’re going to try a comeback sorta takes the zing out of it.