Masahiro Tanka has signed with the Yankees. Now that we know where he will be doing his pitching, it is time to look at what we can expect from a fantasy perspective for 2014. There are two major exercises I undertook to project Tanaka. First was to take a look at Dan Haren‘s numbers as a 25, 26, and 27 year old. The reason I pulled up Haren’s numbers is because his pitch arsenal most reflects Tanaka’s.
The second undertaking was to analyze Tanaka’s stats from Japan. In order to do this I pulled up Yu Darvish‘s last two years in Japan and compared them to his first two yeas with the Rangers. I found that Darvish’s wins, innings pitched, and strike out numbers were fairly similar between leagues. His average ERA was 2.09x higher than his average ERA in Japan, and his average WHIP was 1.27x higher than his average whip in Japan.
|Darvish in Japan||W||ERA||IP||SO||WHIP|
|10 & ’11 AVG||15||1.61||217||249||0.92|
|Darvish in MLB||W||ERA||IP||SO||WHIP|
|12 & ’13 AVG||15||3.37||200||249||1.18|
If we apply these adjustments to Tanaka’s stats over the last 3 years this is what his MLB projection would look like.
|Tanaka in Japan||W||ERA||IP||SO||WHIP|
|11 ’12 ’13 AVG||18||1.47||204||198||0.95|
|Tanaka MLB Projection||W||ERA||IP||SO||WHIP|
“Converting” his stats in Japan to the MLB ends up looking fairly similar to Haren’s numbers as a 25-27 year old. This isn’t an exact science of course, but if Tanaka can get somewhere around these numbers, he should be valuable on any fantasy roster.
Adrian Gonzalez is a safe bet come draft day. He currently is flying a bit under the radar among first basemen, but not every fantasy pick needs to make the room go “ooooh”. Take Gonzalez and pencil into your projected stats, 20 Home runs, 100 RBI, a .290 AVG, and hope for anything more as bonus.
Well that was one of the easier player profiles so far. More to come throughout the off season!
Freddie Freeman has put his name into the conversation among fantasy studs. We have seen a range from .259 to .319. Freeman who enters his year 24 season, still can have some upside. I don’t necessarily expect him to become a 30 home run guy, but I would venture to be optimistic when it comes to his batting average. If we just split the different and call Freeman a .282 hitter like in 2011, I am comfortable with that. Give me my 23 Hrs, my 100 RBI, with a .282 average and I’m content.
Freddie Freeman seems like a pretty safe bet to be among the top 1B producers. He may not be one of the elite 1st round type producers, but perhaps that will make him a fantasy steal for some.
2014 projection for Freddie Freeman:
I have been a big fan and frequent drafter of Troy Tulowitzki. I have ridden his hot streaks right through fantasy playoffs and onto the championship. But he is not without risk, and that risk is primarily is health. It is hard to predict injuries, it is often a fluke injury sliding into home plate, or washing your RV. Tulowitzki has shown however a tendency to get injured enough that it must be a factor in your decision making. If an owner can get 500+ at bats out of Tulowitzki in 2014, that owner is looking at 30 home run, 100 runs batted in guy.
So lets say that he is worth the draft spot, and we take him. Lets say that he does get his 500 at bats, what are we worried about now? Sure he enjoys hitting in Coors field but he is also under contract with the Rockies for some time. Plus Tulowitzki is no slouch on the road. 11 of his 25 home runs last year came on the road, as well as his .281 batting average while on the road.
And his career home and road splits:
Tulowitzki is a risky top pick, but after the first handful or so picks, there are not many players without some sort of risk. Considering the short stop eligibility, why not take the risk on a short stop who could come up big?
Hanley Ramirez appears to be happy in Los Angeles, and a happy Ramirez is a .300 hitter. We don’t have statistics for happiness, but Ramirez seems to enjoy his new city, and seems to enjoy the star power around him. No I am not talking about Hollywood, I am talking about Gonzalez, Kemp, Puig, and the like. Ramirez produced enough in 2013 to be the first shortstop taken in most 2014 drafts.
The at bats were down in 2013 due to injuries. If Ramirez can stay healthy in 2014 it would be fair to expect a healthy increase in runs and runs batted in. The stolen bases I have no doubt are in decline, and a fantasy owner should not bank on his old 50 or even 30 stolen base days. In many draft Ramirez may be a first rounder. This is primarily due to his position being shortstop. An owner is not maximizing their projected statistics by taking Ramirez in the first round compared to many of the other first rounders, who will hit with more power, or run with more speed. But an owner will be drafting a shortstop who can produce significantly more than the second tier of shortstops available.
As I mentioned earlier I do believe Ramirez is a .300 hitter. In 9 seasons Ramirez has had 3 season under .300, one of which was his rookie season (.292). The other two season below .300 were 2011 and 2012, these were the seasons where Ramirez was not happy with his playing situation in Miami. It is unsettling that a disgruntled Ramirez could mean a 60 point drop in batting average, but we have reason to believe that he is happy and ready to produce.
I would prefer to use my early picks on players that are going to boost my counting numbers, Ramirez can not do this to the degree other top notch players can. But if your goal is to get strength at a weak position Ramirez may be a good choice.
My 2014 projection for Ramirez:
Jacoby Ellsbury got his big contract for the Yankees, and will require an equally high investment in fantasy draft rooms. But what are you investing in exactly? In 2013 Ellsbury put together a fine season:
The stolen bases really stand out in this stat line. He will supply runs and a good batting average as well, but is he a first rounder? I have found that you can typically find stolen bases later in the draft. They may not come from as balanced of a player, but I’d prefer to pick up power in the early rounds. You want to argue that Ellsbury can hit for power? You think he will benefit from the jet stream going to right field at the new Yankee stadium? Lets take a look.
In 2011 Ellsbury was fantasy gold, added power to his speed game.
I quite simply do not buy the power numbers, I think they were some sort of mirage. His home run totals since have been, 4 and 9, and I do not think Yankee stadium will be a big help. In that awesome 2011 season Ellsbury hit 4 home runs at Yankee stadium.
These are his career numbers at the new Yankee Stadium:
Notice the home run numbers are the same. I will prefer to find my stolen bases elsewhere and wait on Ellsbury, unless he falls enough in draft, which I do not expect him too.
My 2014 Projection for Ellsbury:
After Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera the first round picks are open for debate. One player I find interesting in this mix is Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez had a strong year in 2013, and did so in only 391 at-bats. He did however strike out over 25% of his at-bats, which is worrisome, but also much higher than his previous seasons. It is as surprising as it is worrisome to note that he still hit over .300 while striking out at this rate.
The two previous years Gonzalez averaged 500 at bats. Had Gonzalez remained at his 500 at-bat average his numbers would have been stronger, potentially as a top 5 fantasy hitter. Gonzalez has experienced some injuries in his career that must be accounted for when deciding to take him in a draft. The other aspect of Cargo’s game is to analyze is his home ballpark. He enjoys hitting at Coors field for half his season, but is no slouch hitting on the road.
Cargo is also under contract with the Rockies until 2017, so the risk of his leaving the mile high stadium are minimal as well.
My 2014 projections for Gonzalez: