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Thursday 23rd Mar 2017

Here we are again, at the end of another baseball season.

Actually, this would be my 17th, writing in this space about the game and fantasy and as I like to say, trying to make some sense of the game on the field, and in our heads, and, well, some kind of cross section of the two.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this week's topic, the Hotpage will be taking the next month off, returning in early November with a look at the AFL and my XFL draft. In December and January we will have winners and losers of the winter meetings and Rule 5 picks, as well as the Top 250 prospects.

But, I will continue with Bed Goes Up and Extra Points, and of course you can continue to track our terrific football coverage supplied by Ryan Carey, Greg Morgan, Marc Meltzer, Perry Van Hook, and of course Lord Zola as we all try to make some sense of the gridiron as well.

OK, so housekeeping aside, the last couple of weeks I looked at some guys I like going into next year, so let's finish the season with five guys whom I think will be overpriced and will experience a correction of their statistics.

Since it has been such a gratifying season for baseball locally, let's start with the Athletics, who have done so well drawing off their rookie pitchers like A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, Dan Straily, and Tommy Milone. And, I have to think that among these guys, Milone is more than expendable. The 25-year old, copped as part of the Gio Gonzalez swap during the off-season last year, did have pretty good minor league totals of 37-22, 3.05 with 505 hits allowed over 516.2 minor league innings. And, even in a pitching environ, like the O.co Coliseum, Milone has fared well with 7-4, 2.68 totals over 14 home starts to 6-6, 5.17 on the road and 15 starts.

However, Milone's second half dropped to 5-4, 4.31 with 89 hits allowed over 71 innings, while the lefty's first half totals were 8-6, 3.57 with 103 hits allowed over 108 innings. More important, in July Milone was 2-1, 4.95 over his past month of play. Now, he is a rookie, with 179.1 innings, but Milone does not throw over around 89 MPH and I think the league largely caught up to him by the end of 2012. One thing about Billy Beane's young arms is they indeed can pitch, but similarly they have to be very fine to succeed. So far Milone has gotten by nicely with 13-10, 3.86 totals but I am seeing an up-and-down Joe Saunders future for Milone. Which is ok, but rarely worth more than $4 in a deep AL format, and maybe good enough for a sixth starter slot in an NFBC format.

Moving across the bay to the Giants and their surprise of 2011, I have the same fears for Ryan Vogelsong, who was untouchable going into August, when though he did go 4-2, his ERA ballooned to 6.32 for the month, and in September things have falled worse, with 1-2, 8.66 numbers. Vogelsong did start the season on the DL, and has twirled 179.2 innings this year, just about what he did last year, though the difference is betweem 17-7, 2.71 in 2011, while this year is 13-9, 3.58. The question is again whether wear and tear is what is getting at Vogelsong, although there have been rumors in SF that the Vogelsong emergence--with three extra miles on his fastball--might be of the same ilk they sent Guillermo Mota, Melky Cabrera, and Bartolo Colon off to never-never land this season. Vogelsong did look ok on Friday, bringing his fastball to 93 MPH while earning his first win of the month, but still he was not overpowering and I do indeed sense the league has caught up to Vogs.

I am not sure if it is a no-brainer here, but just where did A.J. Pierzynski's 2012 come from? Signed before the start of 2012, returning to the Pale Hose, AJ has had the best offensive year of his career, with 26 homers, tying at present his best in RBI at 74, along with a best OPS of .828 at age 35. On the other hand, Pierzynski tied his career high in strikeouts at 72 at press time meaning he is swinging pretty free right now. I am guessing, irrespective of anything else, AJ hits no more than 15 dingers next year, in fact I am betting Tyler Flowers will creep past the vet as the starter. But, there will be those who see those 26 taters and very little else and as a result will be disappointed.

Curtis Granderson has indeed flourished with the Yankees since signing with the club in 2010, and though he does have 39 big flies this year, his RBI total is down 24 from last year, his doubles are down nine from last year, triples down seven, and stolen bases down 16. Granderson has 14 fewer walks than in 2011, but has 14 more strikeouts as I write, and I suppose one question is whether the Yanks pick up the $13 million option for next season. In reality, that is a pretty good buy in the majors, and though Granderson is still just 31, those numbers make me nervous. I do think Granderson will hit 25 dingers, and maybe drive in 70 or so, but his 32 drop in batting average, and 44 point drop in OBP make me want to let someone else manage this risk.

Finally, the Bucs--like the Orioles, Athletics, and Nationals--are just a great story this year. And, the Pirates have some interesting young players, but I would be beyond cautious with 30-year old closer Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan does have 36 conversions, in line with the 40 he nailed last year, but Hanrahan's ratio has expanded to 1.253 from 1.049 of 2011. And, while Hanrahan has done well keeping the hits down to just 37 over 56.2 innings, his walk total shot up to 34 (with zero intentional), meaning his strikeout-to-walk ratio is less than two-to-one. In contrast he was almost four-to-one in both 2010 and 2011. So, those indicators just make me nervous.

What it boils down to is any of the above guys could be a good acquisition for 2013, but just err on the side of caution with all, allowing other owners to take the risk, or better, trading now while their value is high.

That will be it for now. Thanks so much for hanging for another season of the Hotpage, and may your teams all be winners.

See you in a month!

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