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Circling the Bases: Castro vs. Bartlett

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

Circling the Bases
By Ray Flowers
March 1, 2011


ADP TALK
(Numbers are taken from Mock Draft Central for 137 drafts held from February 15th through March 1st).

* Even with his off the field bender issues, Miguel Cabrera still isn't falling down draft boards too far. In the 137 drafts under review he's never fallen past pick #7.

* Justin Morneau continues to hold on to the 10th spot at first base with an ADP mark of 48. The next first baseman going off the board is Kendry Morales at 62. I'm not at all sold that Paul Konerko will be able to match his numbers from last season (.312-39-111-89), but I have a hard time understanding how he is being take at pick 72 when those other two injured first sackers are being taken earlier. We have no idea when Morneau will be on the field in a game, we hope it's by Opening Day, and there is a good deal of concern that Morales will be limited to DH work early in the year as he makes his way back from that leg issue.

* Javier Vazquez was a disaster last year with the Yankees as his numbers fell off the proverbial cliff (10-10, 5.32 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6.92 K/9, more than a batter off his career rate). Toss in the fact that his average fastball was 88.7 mph, more than two mph down from where it normally sits, and I'm having a hard time understanding how he has a higher ADP (190) than a guy like Ted Lilly (225). Let's compare their 2010 numbers:

Vazquez: 10-10, 5.32 ERA, 121 K, 1.40 WHIP
Lilly: 10-12, 3.62 ERA, 166 K, 1.08 WHIP

Huh? How about their career numbers:

Vazquez: 152-149, 4.26 ERA, 8.07 K/9, 3.33 K/BB, 1.40 WHIP
Lilly: 113-96, 4.18 ERA, 7.71 K/9, 2.54 K/BB, 1.26 WHIP

Huh again?

Vazquez returns to the NL where he has always had more success, and he'll pitch in a park that certainly favors pitchers in Florida, but it's not like the Dodgers play in a launching pad for offense in Los Angeles. Given their career numbers, and their performance last year, I find it hard to believe that Vazquez is being taken earlier than the boring, but consistently productive Lilly.

* Moving to the bullpen, there is something rather vexing going on. Let me list for your some ADP numbers.

Joe Nathan (251), David Aardsma (253), Fernando Rodney (266), Joel Hanrahan (287).

So, the average drafter is taking a pitcher who is coming off Tommy John surgery (Nathan), a guy coming off hip surgery who is almost certain to miss the start of the season (Aardsma – you can read more about my concerns for him in A Hip That Makes You Hop?) and a guy who owns a career WHIP of 1.44 (Rodney) before a guy who struck out 100 batters last season in just 69.2 innings (12.92 K/9) while posting a strong 3.85 K/BB ratio? I hope the people in my leagues draft the same way.

BREAKING DOWN: Jason Bartlett
Current ADP: 338 overall, 18th at shortstop

Last week in Circling the Bases I got in all kinds of trouble defending Chase Headley as a decent corner infield option. I'm about to move on from getting detention to being expelled from school with what I'm about to write: based upon draft day cost, and therefore a projected return on investment, I'd rather have Jason Bartlett up the middle than Starlin Castro. There I said it. Let the flogging begin.

CON: There are two obvious reasons to favor Castro no matter what the cost on draft day. (1) He's is younger and therefore likely to improve. (2) He plays his home games in a better park for offense.

Point #1: It's irrefutable that Castro is younger by a rather amazing 11 years. It would stand to reason that Castro would obviously be a better position to improve since Bartlett is 31 years old, an age where major improvement rarely occurs. Score one point for Castro.

Point #2: Wrigley is a better ball park for offense, but does it really matter? I say that because neither hitter is going to be doing the old home run trot with any frequency, all they are going to do is to slap the ball in the gap and run like the dickens. You could also toss in the lineup with Cubs if you want to include it here and say that it is a better unit than the Padres will run out there most days. I can buy that too. Still, I'm really only thinking this is half a point for Castro because Wrigley vs. Petco really isn't as big a factor with these two as it would be with guys who power the ball for a living.

PRO: Look at what the two cost in terms of spending on draft day. Castro is going off the board as the 11th shortstop taken, 159th overall, a mere 179 spots before Jason Bartlett. Are you kidding me? Think about that. The wait from Castro to Bartlett on draft day is longer than the wait to call out Castro's name. Starlin is going to have to be pretty damn good in order to wipe out that massive difference in draft day cost. To that end, was Castro even better than Bartlett last year? I know you're going to say of course, but I bet you are going to be shocked when we actually look at their 2010 performances.

Bartlett: .254-4-47-71-11 in 468 ABs
Castro: .300-3-41-53-10 in 463 ABs

I'll be the first to admit that the .046 point batting average difference is a big deal, but admit it, you had NO idea that Bartlett had more homers, RBI, runs and steals last season in virtually the same total of at-bats? Pretty shocking isn't it?

It's also worth pointing out that Bartlett's career slash line also stacks up rather well against the numbers Castro posted last season.

Bartlett (career): .281/.345/.385
Castro (2010): .300/.347/.408

It should also be pointed out that each season from 2007-2009 that Bartlett stole at least 20 bases. Given that fact, and the fact that the Padres will be forced to run this year to try and produce runs, I'm not at all certain that Castro will be able to best Bartlett in the steals category this season.

So what we have is a solid major league veteran who should rebound from a somewhat down effort, or a young and up and coming youngster who offered little power last season, one who was unable to translate his speed into stolen base success, and one who slumped to .232 over his last 82 at-bats last season. Don't get me wrong, this argument isn't even worth discussing if you are in a keeper league, but if you are in a re-draft league that only counts 2011 performance, I'm more than happy to wait 12 rounds to take the Padres' starting shortstop over the youngster from Wrigley.

WHO AM I?

* My batting average was below the big league average and .013 points below my career mark (.272).

* I hit more home runs than Stephen Drew, 16 to 15.

* I scored one more run than Ian Desmond, 60 to 59.

* I had the same number of doubles as Jose Reyes, 29.

* My OPS wasn't very good at .692, but it was a dead on match for Miguel Tejada.

* I had 144 hits, two more than Starlin Castro and seven more than Jhonny Peralta.

* My real claim to fame? How about the fact that I led American League shortstops in RBI with 78.

Who am I?

BY THE NUMBERS

0.06: The spread between the yearly GB/FB ratios posted by the Royals' Billy Butler during his four year career – 1.43, 1.41, 1.37 and 1.40. With numbers like that he'll be hard pressed to consistently post mid-20's homer totals unless he substantially ups his homer to fly ball ratio which site at 9.5 percent, just about the big league average.

0.15: The spread between the yearly GB/FB ratios posted by the Astros' Hunter Pence during his four year career: 1.55, 1.50, 1.62 and 1.65. So how has he been able to post 3-straight years of exactly 25 homers with a GB/FB ratio that more heavily favors the grounder than Butler? The answer is simple. Pence is better able to convert his fly balls into big flies. Look at the consistency Pence has shown in the HR/FB category, it's pretty amazing really – 14.9, 15.3, 16.0 and 15.2 percent.

1: The number of pitchers who won at least 17 games while posting an ERA above 3.90 (there were fourteen 17 games winners in 2010). The lucky "winner" was Phil Hughes who posted a 4.19 mark for the Yankees. In the tale of two halves Hughes posted a 3.65 ERA in the first half before limping to the finish line with a 4.90 mark over his last 15 appearances.

3: The number of consecutive seasons that J.D. Drew has hit at least 19 homers with 64 RBI and 69 runs. Those numbers obviously don't excite anyone, but did you know that there are only two other AL outfielders who have gone 19-64-69 in each of the past three years? They are Curtis Granderson and Torii Hunter.

6: The number of times in the past seven years that Roy Oswalt has thrown 200-innings (he was limited to 181. in 2009). It also marks the number of times that his ERA has been below 3.55 in that time as well as the number of times that his WHIP has been under 1.25.

I AM...
The Brewers' Yunieksy Betancourt.

Will he be able to repeat his production of 16 homers and 78 RBI now that he is a Brewer? You should be pretty dubious of such a scenario playing out. If you add together his previous two best seasons in the homer department you would get a total of 17, and only once in his career prior to last year had he ever managed to knock in more than 51 runs (he had 67 RBI in 2007). Moreover, it's not like those power numbers are really worth anything in the fantasy game, especially when you consider that after hitting .279 or better each year from 2006-08 that he has managed to hit a mere .252 over 1,026 at-bats the past two seasons.


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