MLB Barometer: Old Huddy Duddy

MLB Barometer: Old Huddy Duddy

This article is part of our MLB Barometer series.


MLB Barometer - Old Huddy Duddy

As we head into the final two weeks of the season, a little due diligence to prepare for next year goes a long way. We're all tired from the grind of the season, but before we focus attention on football (and our families!), it's a good idea to review some of the studs and duds of the 2014 baseball season and create an ADP of our own before countless websites and magazines start to impress upon our consciences - Scott Jenstad and I discussed potential first-rounders for 2015 in Monday's podcast here.

One of the things I'm guilty of - and I'm sure many of you are - is focusing too much on the first round when we're preparing for our drafts come springtime. Well, we know Mike Trout is a sure-fire first round pick, that Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen, Clayton Kershaw are repeat first-rounders and that Jose Abreu and Giancarlo Stanton should crack the first round this year. But what about some of the options we might come across in the later rounds that we can set a firm opinion on now?

Here are four situations you may encounter in your draft next year, and the way I see it looking six months ahead:

Late Second / Early Third round speed: Draft Billy Hamilton over Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon should lead the league in steals this year, but Hamilton is hot on his tail (five less bags


MLB Barometer - Old Huddy Duddy

As we head into the final two weeks of the season, a little due diligence to prepare for next year goes a long way. We're all tired from the grind of the season, but before we focus attention on football (and our families!), it's a good idea to review some of the studs and duds of the 2014 baseball season and create an ADP of our own before countless websites and magazines start to impress upon our consciences - Scott Jenstad and I discussed potential first-rounders for 2015 in Monday's podcast here.

One of the things I'm guilty of - and I'm sure many of you are - is focusing too much on the first round when we're preparing for our drafts come springtime. Well, we know Mike Trout is a sure-fire first round pick, that Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen, Clayton Kershaw are repeat first-rounders and that Jose Abreu and Giancarlo Stanton should crack the first round this year. But what about some of the options we might come across in the later rounds that we can set a firm opinion on now?

Here are four situations you may encounter in your draft next year, and the way I see it looking six months ahead:

Late Second / Early Third round speed: Draft Billy Hamilton over Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon should lead the league in steals this year, but Hamilton is hot on his tail (five less bags in 19 less at-bats). Gordon has been an absolutely phenomenal value for a guy who moved up to the round 12-15 range when it looked like he was locking up the leadoff spot for the Dodgers. I'm just not certain that his .348 BABIP can repeat next year. And in an era where power looks to be at a premium, it's hard to take someone with zero pop. Hamilton actually has six homers this year, is younger than Dee by two years, and is a better long term bet. Todd Frazier has solidified himself, Jay Bruce should bounce back and hopefully Joey Votto returns with full health. Hamilton has a shot at 100 SBs one of these seasons and can almost single-handedly lock that category up for you. You're likely on the same page with me here. I'd much rather take a shot at Hamilton over Gordon if I'm going for speed so early in the draft.

Third round 3B of today vs. yesterday: Draft Todd Frazier over Evan Longoria

I'm probably not in the minority here with this decision either. Of course, we'd have to be careful not to look too much into just 2014 results, but the biggest difference here is the extra stolen bases you get from Frazier - 20 stolen bases is impressive for a third basemen and he's the only regular at his position besides Brock Holt with double-digits. Frazier has stayed steady throughout the season and avoided cooling off like he did in 2013. Longoria gets no favors from the pitchers park that is Tropicana Field. He's been healthy this year but has seen a stark decline in homers - only 21 on the year. I wouldn't bet against him hitting 30 again, but he doesn't run like he used to (only 5 SB) and the batting average has been under .270 for two consecutive years. I'll take Frazier here.

Sixth round Corner Infielder: Draft Matt Adams over Brandon Moss

I touch on Moss in my fallers below - he's hit only two homers since the All-Star break and is a batting average liability. Sure, power is hard to come by this year, but he still can't hit righties well and the .291 BA in 2012 (.359 BABIP) was most certainly a fluke. Moss is also striking out 27% of the time for the second consecutive year. I'd rather take the younger Adams, who has shown flashes of pop but also shows that he can hit for average. Adams will be 27 next year and should be one of the highlights of a Cardinals lineup that always finds a way to be competitive. He will be a bargain next season based on his low-key 2014 numbers (YTD: 521 PA, 15 HR, 64 RBI, 50 SB, 3 SB, .287) and I think a 25 HR, 100 RBI season is coming as soon as 2015.

Fifth round 15/20 guy: Draft Christian Yelich over Brian Dozier

Granted, I'm smitten by Yelich. His work ethic is raved about and he's had a fine first full season in the big leagues - 88 runs, 9 homers, 19 steals and a .293 average. The former first round pick seems mature for his 22 years and will be a 100-run threat so long as Giancarlo Stanton is in the lineup. Meanwhile, Brian Dozier caught the fantasy world by storm early on, but has actually hurt his fantasy owners lately - only two homers since the All-Star break after popping 18 out before the break. He stopped running too - his Monday night steal was his first in almost a month. The 100 runs are nice, but many of those came before Danny Santana took over the leadoff spot. And his .236 average with so many plate appearances is a detriment to that roto category. Sure, he's a second basemen, which boosts his value, but for me the choice is an easy one with Yelich.

Be sure to review 2014 statistics by position when the season ends and keep an eye out for players you think might be undervalued this year based on their 2013 performances. Players like Hanley Ramirez, Alex Rios, Eric Hosmer and Jason Kipnis come to mind. Maybe they've had their career seasons already, but these are three guys taken within the first three rounds this year that have either dealt with injuries or have flat out struggled - and may be available after the first 60 picks in your drafts next year. Our hobby is fun and exciting, but it is a grind nonetheless - the more you put in on the front end, the better chance at a fruitful and profitable outcome.

RISERS

Kole Calhoun (OF, LAA) - Calhoun leads off for arguably baseball's most dangerous lineup and has more than solidified his role over the last couple of months. Calhoun and teammate Mike Trout are baseball's hottest hitters in the month of September. Over the last two weeks, Calhoun is tied with Trout for the major league lead in runs scored (15) and has hit three homers with 10 runs batted in and a .371 on-base percentage. Factoring in about a month missed due to injury, Calhoun will finish the year playing in 125 or so games, and will probably end up with around 95-100 runs. It makes you think about what kind of value Calhoun would have leading off for this lineup next year and what round it would take to get a potential 120 R - 15 HR - 70 RBI - 10 SB with a BA north of .280. Calhoun was somewhat of a "sleeper" this year, if that term even still exists. Fantasy owners will be more than awake for him next March.

Lorenzo Cain (OF, KC) - Cain is someone who has quietly contributed to fantasy teams without much fanfare. The numbers aren't anything spectacular (4 HR, 54 R, 46 RBI in 120 games) but a steady .300 average with 26 steals is well worth his ADP of 328. He was cast away as yet another prospect who couldn't hack it, but it appears that Cain is simply a late-bloomer. A .378 BABIP alludes to a bit of luck in his batting average, but Cain has improved his base running - caught stealing only four times in 29 attempts. Cain also hits righties and lefties equally well (.298 v L, .302 v R). He will be available in the later rounds next year and we can expect .280+ with 25 plus steals.

Jordan Zimmermann (SP, WAS) - Zimmermann has been clutch this year as he looks to finish 2014 with his second sub-3.00 ERA season. Zimmermann's last loss came way back on July 11 and he has won six of his last nine starts, including both starts last week. What's most impressive about Zimm this year is that he has become a strikeout pitcher - which is what has specifically kept the fantasy world from mentioning him among baseball's elite. So far, his strikeouts-per-nine is an impressive 8.25 - a marked improvement on the past three seasons where the K/9 has ranged between 6.8 and 7.1. Zimm tunes up with his final two regular season starts before the playoffs against the Giancarlo Stanton-less Marlins on the road and then one at home against the Mets. He'll be drafted an SP2 next year, but definitely one of the better and safer ones.

Francisco Liriano (SP, PIT) - Liriano has gone from bum to fantasy savior over the last couple of months. Fighting injuries and issuing free passes with abandon, Liriano hit the All-Star break with a 1-7 record and a disastrous 4.72 ERA. Since then, he's 4-3 with a 2.22 ERA in 69 innings. His two most recent starts were masterful scoreless road gems - 9 K in 6 IP against the Cubs followed by 12 K in 8 IP versus the Phillies. His strikeouts-per-nine is just under 10 on the year and Liriano has an xFIP (3.23) lower than his ERA (3.53). Liriano lines up for an interleague battle against the Boston Red Sox this week and is slated for a two-step in the final week of the season, though playoff scheduling may affect his final regular season start. Liriano will continue to be a polarizing fantasy pitcher as many have been burned by him, but a strong finish to the season should land him in the same draft range next season - an SP3 somewhere between the 30th and 40th starting pitcher off draft boards.

Yusmeiro Petit (SP, SF) - It's been a little over a year since Petit appeared on the fantasy radar, coming within an out of a perfect game against the Diamondbacks. Petit struggled through an eight start stretch from late April through the end of May and then spent most of the season in middle relief. Since taking over for Tim Lincecum, the results have been mostly positive, outside of a 6 ER battering by the Rockies on September 2. Most impressive was a four-hit shutout with nine strikeouts against those Diamondbacks last Monday. He followed it up with another strong start over the weekend (7 IP, 8 K, 3 ER), but the opposing pitcher was Clayton Kershaw, so the game was theoretically lost before it even started. Shuttling between the starts and the relief appearances, Petit has maintained fantastic control (1.00 WHIP) and a fine K/9 (9.97). Petit gets a layup (jinx?) against the Padres in PETCO this week followed by another start against the Padres in week 26. Petit relies on a 89-mph fastball and a cutter that's held batters to a .194 BA this year. At age 29, Petit is no spring chicken, but he's got a friendly pitcher's park to call home and makes for a good SP4 target next year.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Hitters: Yasmani Grandal (C, SD), Xander Bogaerts (IF, BOS), Chris Young (OF, NYY), Alejandro De Aza (OF, BAL)
Pitchers: Jered Weaver (SP, LAA), Shelby Miller (SP, STL), Drew Storen (RP, WAS), Mark Melancon (SP, PIT)
Not Falling For It: Yunel Escobar (SS, TB), Miguel Gonzalez (SP, BAL)

FALLERS

Alex Rios (OF, TEX) - Rios is one of many Rangers this year who can blame bumps and bruises for his woeful production - an ankle issue affecting his speed and a thumb affecting his hitting. The team has fallen apart with injuries to Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder, Jurickson Profar as well as most of the pitching staff, but Rios has managed to play 131 games and nearly 500 at-bats. Rios has been an easy one to bench in 12-team leagues lately. What's most disconcerting is Rios' production relative to his draft slot (third round in 12-teamers) - 17 steals, down from 42 last year, and a mere four home runs. Rios has been a flat out bust, is turning 34 next season and will likely call a new park home next year. Rios is one of the toughest fantasy players to project from year to year, but he'll likely fall so far in drafts next year that he may actually end up being a value.

Chris Johnson (3B, ATL) - Johnson is about as vanilla as they come in the fantasy game. Though he's posted a couple of fine seasons of plus .300 BA, they're usually pretty empty with respect to the rest of the hitting categories. Johnson has only three hits in 33 September at-bats (that's .091) with only one run and a single RBI. Johnson is striking out at the highest clip of his career (26.4%) as drawing less walks (3.7%) than ever before. The only thing CJ can hang his hat on this year is his career high of six stolen bases. Johnson is fantasy worthless in my book - the adage that you can just add Johnson late in drafts to help with batting average is a misconception - he's hit .251, .281 and currently .261 in three of his last four seasons. Nothing to see here.

Brandon Moss (1B/OF, OAK) - The sweet swinging Moss became one of the AL's most reliable power hitters last year, swatting 30 HR and 87 RBI in 540 PA - a surge that continued  fruitfully through the first couple months of this season. By the time the All Star break rolled around, Moss was amongst the major league leaders in homers with 21. But the power is gone. Moss hit only his third home run since the break and is failing to make contact altogether - a .176 BA over the last two months. Moss does have 19 of his 23 homers against righties this year, but continues to see a discrepancy in batting average against them compared to LHP (.271 v L, .239 v R). Moss' struggles have coincided with the unraveling of the A's who went from baseball's best team to now a reach to make the playoffs. Owners wise enough to have been able to take the best of Moss' first half stats and have matched him up with a second-half Chris Carter should be nominees for Fantasy Manager of the Year. Moss is hitting .136 in September and has hit rock bottom. He should be a decent value next year.

Tim Hudson (SP, SF) - Hudson is another serious second half fader, most recently serving up six earned runs on eight hits to the Dodgers last week. Hudson has been unreliable since the All Star break - 2-5 with a 4.45 ERA, compared to 7-6 and a 2.87 before the break. Even worse is that Hudson has been better on the road this year - 2.88 away from AT&T Park, 3.94 in it. Huddy looks gassed - he's 39 year old and doesn't offer much in the strikeout department (5.71 K/9). Hudson is a tough start this week, even against the lowly Padres. It may very well be the end of an era.

LaTroy Hawkins (RP, COL) - The 41-year-old Hawkins won the closers gig for the Rockies in spring training and suckered in fantasy owners around the nation for a season of mediocrity. Hawkins has been one of the least effective ninth-inning guys in baseball this year - not all his fault though. The Rockies lost key sluggers Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, and have not been ahead in many games to even afford Hawkins the save opp. In fact, Hawkins went an entire month's stretch without one - from July 9 to August 10. Hawkins has blown consecutive save opportunities against the Mets and Giants, though only his second and third blown saves of the year. One would think owners could at least get something out of the deal - maybe some strikeouts? Nope, his 5.84 strikeouts-per-nine is worst among closers with at least 40 IP in the NL (The American League's Casey Janssen is worse - 5.71). Hawkins appears to be heading into the final two weeks of his career.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Hitters: Matt Joyce (OF, TB), Matt Dominguez (3B, HOU), Jarrod Dyson (OF, KC), Billy Butler (DH, KC)
Pitchers: Mike Minor (SP, ATL), Yovani Gallardo (SP, MLW), Odrisamer Despaigne (SP, SD), Addison Reed (RP, ARI)
Not Falling For It: Adam Eaton (OF, CHW), Kyle Kendrick (SP, PHI)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vlad Sedler
Vlad Sedler covers baseball and football for RotoWire. He is a veteran NFBC player and CDM Hall of Famer, winning the Football Super Challenge in 2013. A native Angeleno, Vlad loves the Dodgers and Kings and is quite possibly the world's only Packers/Raiders fan. You can follow him @RotoGut.
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