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:
I just took part in my first real draft of the year. A local 12 tm head to head points league using standards epsn.com scoring. I had the 12th pick and will give the rundown on each on of my selections. A few things to note. I discerned that only 3 maybe 4 teams were drafting based off of H2H players rankings, and I was trying to use my own player rankings based off of composite projections from various sources. And there were 4 OF spots instead of the typical 3 for this format.
Round 1, pick 12 – Jose Bautista
2, 13 – Clayton Kershaw
3, 36 – Billy Butler
4,37 – Jose Reyes
5, 60 – Ryan Zimmerman
6, 61 – Aroldis Chapman
7,84 – Martin Prado
8,85 – Kris Medlen
9, 108 – David Ortiz
10, 109 – Josh Johnson
11, 132 – Andre Ethier
12, 133 – Jon Lester
13, 156 – Jarrod Parker
14, 157 – Corey Hart
15, 180 – Salvador Perez
16, 181 – Daniel Murphy
17, 204 – David Murphy
18, 205 – Marco Estrada
19, 228 – Denard Span
20, 229 – Tom Wilhelmsen
21, 252 – Jed Lowrie
22, 253 – Wade Davis
Round 1 – Jose Bautista in H2H leagues profiles as the 9th ranked player, even ahead of Trout and McCuthen. Neither of those guys were on the board but I was happy to get him at the 12th overall pick.
Round 2 – I had no intention of taking a pitcher until the 5th or 6th round, but when I saw Clayton still there for my turn around pick and being a Dodger fan I went for it. I decided to pass on Beltre in order to do it.
Round 3 – Billy Butler is a H2H points machine. Even if some of his HRs revert back to doubles he should over plenty of total bases for this scoring format.
Round 4 – Similar to Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes profiles as the 11th best hitter on my cheat sheet. I had not taken Reyes in a single mock draft, because I was targeting Zobrist a round or 2 later. But it is a good thing I pulled the trigger on Reyes because Zobrist went in round 5 at pick 56.
Round 5 – Not only did I miss Zobrist for my 2B spot, but Aramis Ramirez was snagged just before my pick as well. So I went with Zimmerman. I was happy to fall back to Zimmerman, although in this format I liked Aramis more.
Round 6 – I did not like my options with this pick, and was trying not to reach too far for guys that profiled well on my projections. So in a league that locks at the start of the week I wanted RPs who could start. Still not sure if Chapman is starting but either way he should help give me an advantage in the RP spot. Kimbrel had gone early round 5 so if Chapman ends up a closer I expect similar output.
Round 7 – Prado is another H2H specialist. With Zimmerman at 3B I have a solid guy to fill if he goes down, but Prado will be a solid #2 OF in this format.
Round 8 – Kris Medlen solidifies my strategy to take advantage of the RP slot in this format. He projects to score far more points starting than the second tier closers. (Second tier being anyone after Kimbrel)
Round 9 – David Ortiz ranked as the 27th overall hitter on my list. I thought at pick 108 this was great value even if he starts the season on the 15 day DL. And I had no problem tieing up my UTL spot with him.
Round 10 – In a 12 team mixed league I feel comfortable taking risks with my pitching staff. If I can get a dominant and mostly healthy Josh Johnson in round 10 I have two aces on my team.
Round 11 – Ethier is another guy who is underrated and does well in this format. As a Dodger fan I hope to see his success against lefties improve but won’t be against benching him in a week against several lefties.
Round 12 – I like and believe in Lester even more than I do J.J. I had picked Lester to win the CY young award before last season and was shocked to see his performance. I see him getting back to old form and possibly giving me three aces, but even if just him or Johnson perform I’ll be happy.
Round 13 – Jarrod Parker like Lester and Johnson I’m willing to take some risk on. With a relatively deep free agent pool I am comfortable taking risks on high upside pitchers at this point in the draft.
Round 14 – Corey Hart will be a big boost to my OF when he is ready to play. But with Ortiz already on the squad and only 1 DL spot, I hope one of them is back quickly.
Round 15 – The plan was to wait on catchers this year. If every team drafted 1 catcher I was fine owning the 12th ranked catcher. I had seen Perez slip from me in mock drafts however and did prefer him over the Lucroy’s of the world.
Round 16 – Daniel Murphy – After missing on Zobrist I was not that excited about the remaining second basemen. I had Neil Walker and Utley taken just before me in a few rounds, and started to panick about my second basemen. I also did not realize he was injured when I drafted him. I am looking at Gyorko and Bonifacio (when/if he qualifies at 2B) in the free agent pool currently.
Round 17 – David Murphy – Kind of a boring pick, but in the H2H points format sometimes boring is good.
Round 18 – Marco Estrada at this pick is low risk and high upside.
Round 19 – Denard Span – Span is another guy that ranked surprisingly high in my hitter rankings. I can use him while I wait for Hart or to platoon with Ethier.
Round 20 – I wanted to have RP eligible starters in my RP slot, but I just felt weird drafting a team without a RP. I like Wilhelmsen and he is exactly the kind of closer I typically target late.
Round 21 – I took Lowrie hoping for 2B eligibility because I was still upset over Murphy as my 2B. I was also debating on Bonifacio with this pick using the same logic.
Round 22 – Wade Davis was another RP guy and it turned out I had hit a draft limit of starting pitchers. I would have liked to have taken Beckett, or Cobb starting around round 20, but was literally unable to. This rule got reversed after the draft and I eventually dropped Davis for McDonald, and then McDonald for Iwakuma who projects for more points, and is a RP guy who I think I can leverage in a trade.
Is Jeff Samardzija going to make the kind of fantasy impact that Max Scherzer did in 2012? I think this is a high possibility. This is not a matter of age, because they are the same age. But Scherzer was exposed to big league hitting much earlier. From 2009-2011 Scherzer pitched 560 innings. Then Scherzer breaks out in 2012, Lower his era in 2011 of 4.43 to 3.74, his WHIP from 1.35 to 1.27, and his K/9 from 8.0 to 11.1. Samardja in that span pitched 142 innings.
Samardzija ‘s 2012 was his first year throwing more than 100 innings. He ended up throwing 174.2 innings, with a 3.81 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and a 9.3 K/9. Although these two pitchers are the same age it would be reasonable to think that Scherzer was ahead of the curve and took a step forward earlier. I believe that same step forward can be taken by Samardzija this year. Eclipsing 200 IPs with well over 200 Ks and continuing his success in ERA and WHIP, and providing great value.
Head-to-head fantasy baseball leagues offer a great way to compete with friends, coworkers, family, and rivals. I have spent much time over the water-cooler talking about my last match up rather than discussing how we can improve our sales for the quarter. When it comes to points leagues there are a few things worth noting, to help you when your league.
Balance does not matter. In a points league your only objective is to get the most points. When building your roster you only care about accumulating points. There is no need to pay attention to balancing; speed and power, saves and wins, etc.
Know your leagues scoring. I wrote in depth on this in an earlier post, where I discussed how you can create your own player rankings specific to your leagues scoring settings. Click here to see my post on custom h2h rankings. Even across the major fantasy websites, you will come across different scoring settings, and heaven forbid you have a commissioner who is a tinkerer.
You can wait on pitching. Yes I know that typically in this format pitchers are the highest scoring players. And in this format pitchers tend to go off the board earlier than other formats. But there are also more high scoring pitchers. What does that mean? It means that I can draft the 15th ranked pitcher and still get a bunch of points. But you are unlikely to get a whole lot of points with the 15th ranked Second Basemen.
Take advantage of the sites rankings. If you followed my link and created your own player rankings you will find major differences from the websites player rankings. It doesn’t mean that you take Aoki in the 6th round even though he is projected to be the 70th ranked player. But if you need to jump him up 2 rounds to get him. Do it! Trust the homework that you have done.
Hopefully these tips can help you this year. Good luck and I welcome your comments and feedback.
Similar to Eric Karabel’s list of players to watch during spring training, here is a list of players I have questions about that could be answered during spring training prior to drafts.
Matt Kemp – Is his shoulder surgery going to affect his power like it did his teammate Adrian Gonzalez? As a Dodger fan I am hopeful he will not be sapped of his power, but it is eerily similar to Gonzalez.
Yadier Molina – Was his 2012 legit? I lean more on the pessimistic side on this one. Some in the fantasy industry seem to think that catchers are maturing later than most hitters. This could be the case given the learning curve of their position defensively.
Hyun-Jin Ryu – How does his dominance in Korea carry over to the big leagues? At 25 years old and with his numbers in Korea he could be an interesting fantasy player.
Hosmer/Lawrie – They showed so much short season promise in 2011, but their 2012 seasons did not live up to their draft value. I see their skills and think they bounce back to what people thought they could be. But this also makes me nervous about drafting players like Rizzo for 2013.
Kipnis/Heyward – Were their steals legit last year? The supporting numbers say no.
Lincecum/Hanson/Lester – I see bounce backs for all three of these guys. However I have been reading a lot about Hanson’s lost velocity and overall skill set, so approaching him more cautiously than the others.