On Sunday morning, I set the alarm early and braved 6 inches of snow, wind, ice and sleet and traveled nearly three hours (normally two in normal conditions) to Great American Ball Park for the First Pitch Forum. Todd Zola, the EF Hutton of player valuation, was presenting, along with other speakers. It was well worth the trip. Todd’s tour will include five more stops on the east and west coast. Click here for more details:
Contrary to popular mantra, Victor Martinez’s level of production in 2014 was not all that surprising. It certainly wasn’t without precedent. He’d scored 87 runs previously; his 103 RBI total was merely good enough to tie for 3rd best in his career. His .335 batting average was a personal best, but only by a gnat’s eyelash. The only unprecedented number was the small spike in home runs. If you look at his rate stats, the Tigers cleanup hitter had shown 25-homer power in three of his previous six seasons. Sure, anybody’s numbers go down when they’re on the DL or playing through injury, and the latter is what so many catchers do. Starting in 2013, for the first time in his entire career, V-Mart was no longer a catcher, but a DH, and the potential for injury changed significantly. Given full health and hitting cleanup after a future Hall of Famer with a roughly .400 career OBP, Martinez did what he does. He was poised to be a good value again this year heading into 2015 drafts. That is until he tore his medial meniscus in his left knee. If I’m a Victor Martinez owner, I’m worried. I have that exact same injury and I know how limiting it can be. It took months of tedious, monotonous, dedicated rehab to become relatively symptom free, and I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable putting much torque on that knee again. I’ve lowered my projected floor for him from 25 HR down to 12-15, while maintaining a .300+ BA and career norms in runs and RBI. I’ll probably hold off from drafting him in stand alone leagues, and in the NFBC Main Event, I probably won’t think about him until the 5th round at the earliest, and if I take the risk I have to handcuff him with plenty of depth at CI.
Which player would you rather invest in?
Player A: .264/.312/.445/.757 – 16th Round
Player B: .260/.301/.450/.751 – 5th Round
Rajai Davis seems to be a favorite punching bag of many analysts. I don’t think he’s as bad with the stick as some make him out to be, but I have more concerns about his playing time than usual this year. Detroit let Torii Hunter and his -18.3 UZR walk, and in season they shipped off Austin Jackson’s declining bat and zone rating (7.7 UZR) off to Seattle. They acquired Yoenis Cespedes’ overrated bat, 8.4 UZR (11.4 UZR/150), and the best outfield arm in all of baseball and plugged them all in left field. Davis’ -8.0 UZR pales in comparison to newly acquired Anthony Gose’s 9.2 UZR(20.8 UZR/150). In the incumbent’s favor is the fact that the former Blue Jay can’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag, but Gose walks more often than Davis, so there’s not much difference between their OBP’s. It’s shaping up as a volatile situation with the youngster having the clear advantage in the field. All of these changes are not particularly good for Rajai, but they will benefit Detroit’s pitching staff.
I’m starting to wonder if Alfredo Simon is one of those players that is so overrated that he’s underrated. I think we’ve all heard about his 3.44 ERA and 4.40 FIP. The move to the AL doesn’t help either. Let’s keep things in perspective though. The Reds All-Star posted a 1.05 WHIP and 10 wins in the first half and boasts a 94 mph average fastball speed. You don’t want to pay for that. You don’t have to pay for that. He’s going in the 26th round, the functional equivalent of a $1 waiver pickup. Most picks in the 24-30 range end up as drops anyway. There’s zero risk here.
While everyone is focused on Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Max Scherzer in the 1st and early 2nd rounds, David Price quietly sits there in the early 3rd coming off a 271-strikeout season that was even better than his 3.26 ERA would seem to indicate (2.80 FIP). The lefty from Tampa will get more run support in the Motor City, allowing him to improve on his 15-win total from a year ago.
I think everyone realizes that Joe Nathan can’t pitch anymore. Well, everyone but Joe Nathan. It’s hard to envision that train wreck continuing in the ninth for very long. Nathan will have to find a fountain of youth somewhere or Joakim Soria (20th Round ADP) may end up replacing him in short order.