Brian, Player Profile, Third Base

Player Profile: Brett Lawrie

Alright! Who let the tool out of the tool shed?

I like to think of fantasy baseball as a microcosm of the stock market. It’s a small economy that fits into your computer. You check the stat ticker on the bottom of the television screen, much like traders check the DOW. You buy low. You sell high.

Staying with this metaphor, would you ever put a large sum of your money in a relatively unknown stock that yes, has had some immediate success, but has only been around for a few weeks? Let’s call this product The Lawriemower. It’s from Canada. Customer reviews say it works great for the first, oh, hour or so, but then it slowly loses steam, stops cutting grass, and finally one of the blades breaks and it becomes unusable. Would you put all your faith in this product? No? You wouldn’t?

Then why are all of you so freaking high on Brett Lawrie? Let’s talk this out. I’m sorry for saying freaking. I didn’t mean to scare you.

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Butler, First Base, First Basemen, Player Profile

Player Profile: Eric Hosmer

"Follow me to freedom!"

Back in the 70s and 80s, before the economic landscape of baseball became a proletarian struggle for survival of the “haves” versus the “have nots,” the Kansas City Royals were one of the game’s premier franchises. Between 1976 and 1985 they won six AL West championships. Since winning the World Series in ’85, however, they haven’t even made the playoffs. The absence of a hard salary cap (“luxury tax” should be reserved for Monopoly boards, not as a means of ushering wealthy clubs toward fiscal temperance) and the great disparity in television and radio revenue–the Yankees have their own freaking TV network–coupled with poor drafting and player development, has led to generational stretches of futility for some formerly proud organizations.

In 2011 the Royals showed signs of returning to relevance by virtue of an influx of young hitters produced by their farm system. First baseman Eric Hosmer is foremost among them, finishing with a slash line of 66/19/78/.293/11 in 523 at-bats. Kila Ka’aihue began the season as the starter at first base. By early May, his languid hitting confirmed the long held suspicion that the “Tryin’ Hawaiian” is a dog with fleas with no real business on a major league roster. Hosmer was called up on May 6, despite having fewer than 300 career at-bats above A-ball. He latched onto the starting job and never looked back.

Open at your own risk.

He certainly looks like a star, and most experts have him in the top ten at his position. I have him ninth in my rankings, mostly because, unlike my esteemed colleague, I am not ready to start shoveling dirt over Paul Konerko and Lance Berkman juuust yet. I think those old dogs still have at least one good season in them. Rotobrian and I exchanged heated words on the subject. In retaliation he overnighted me a fart in a Ziploc; it smelled like the inside of a Ziploc. Urban myth debunked.

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Brian, Projections, Rankings, Second Base

Brian’s Top 15 Second Basemen Rankings and Projections for ’12

Lots of 2B talent in the AL East.

Once again, the two baggers are top heavy. But the new trend in this position is the amount of deployable, affordable lower tier players. Let’s take a gander, shall we?

The cream of this year’s crop: Robbie Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Dan Uggla. In standard ten-team leagues, these four are rare species outside of the first three rounds. They are well documented and well followed and well liked by all who document and follow them. They are head and shoulders above the rest, but the usability of the rest is what is worth talking about. So to make this quick, Robbie: stud; Dustin: stud #2; Ian: troll boy; Dan: the man. Moving on…

What you’ll notice about the projections for the rest is the numbers look pretty similar to each other. Brandon Phillips looks like Chase Utley. Utley looks like Dustin Ackley. Ackley looks like Neil Walker. If you’re willing to take a player who isn’t a household name, you’re probably going to be better off with the lower tiered guys. If you’re really looking for a lunch ticket, you’ll wait super late and draft Jason Kipnis, who, surprisingly, looks like Ackley.

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Brian, First Base, Projections, Rankings

Brian’s Top 20 First Basemen Rankings and Projections for ’12

Probably the only time you'll see a picture of CJ Wilson on Rotoballs.

Alright, before you read this, scan down the list…I’ll wait…(drinks a beer)…(clips toenails)…you back yet? I know, right? No Ryan Howard! But screw that guy! I mean, he’s barely got a leg left, he’s 34 years old, and I just really don’t like the name “Ryan”. So instead of worrying myself with projecting the unprojectable, I ripped up all his baseball cards and set my Phillies jersey on fire. Another thing you’ll notice: no Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, or Joe Mauer. Reason: if you draft one of these players and play them at first, shame on you.

And now that that’s taken care of, we can get down to the nitty-gritty, the insane projections, and the absurd rankings you noticed during your scan.

Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera? Who is still the best hitter in the league? Who doesn’t have to play third base? Who is older than he is fat? Pujols. It was close. But I would kill myself if some of you drafted Cabrera over Pujols and the latter out-produced the former and I had projected differently.

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Brian, Catcher, Projections, Rankings

Brian’s Top 12 Catcher Rankings and Projections for ’12

Catcher is a silly position in 2012

If you could pick one position that you would love to not draft in 2012, what would it be? Shut up, it’s not DH you silly suckers, it’s catcher. Gone are the days where you could draft a sure stud behind the plate. Victor Martinez is hobbling around somewhere in the geriatric ward, while Jorge Posada took his tear-soaked glove and box of tissues home with him. The mainstays, like Brian McCann and Joe Mauer, are still here, but neither can be called difference makers anymore. McCann hasn’t shown the power everyone thought he would develop and Mauer, injured and banged up over the past few seasons, hasn’t regained that power stroke he had in ’09.

There are a few youngsters at the position, all of which have upside, but a significant and daunting downside. Catcher for the Tribe, Carlos Santana (26 years old), has shown that power that McCann hasn’t, but he’s a whiff machine and only amassed 132 hits in 552 at-bats. Buster Posey (24) possesses all the skills to be a big-time player, but coming off a significant injury could limit his playing time. Jesus Montero (22), the youngest of the bunch, gave us a tantalizing glimpse, albeit a brief one, at what could be the beginning of a wonderful career. But playing for the Mariners will limit his scoring opportunities. Finally, J.P. Arencibia (26) is a masher, but equally a golden sombrero wearer, but if you’re in 5×5 you won’t have to worry about his strikeouts.

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Brian, Outfield, Player Profile

Player Profile: Ryan Braun

There wasn't much of this "bro-tastic" fun in the off-season for Braunie.

[UPDATE: Braun exonerated and will not serve 50-game suspension]

Easily the most talked about player in the off-season (sorry Yu, Prince, and Albert), Ryan Braun probably envisioned his winter months being spent in a more relaxing way. He surely would’ve taken a few trips to South Beach, fist pumping the whole time to club chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” But the University of Miami product has been linked to a leaked failed drug test, triggered by insanely high testosterone levels, which all but ensures the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player will watch the first 50 games from the bench. It’s hard to celebrate with that hanging over your head.

A glimmer of hope shone through, though, when, in late-January, radio host Dan Patrick broke news that a source close to the ruling process gave up information, which Patrick thought should exonerate Braun. Twitter and other social media sites were gossiping like coke-driven sorority girls about what the information could be.

Was the cause of Braun’s elevated testosterone due to a disease?

Was he taking medication for his herpes?

What? Four or five other Milwaukee Brewers failed the test, too? The test must be tainted.

But when nothing came of the Dan Patrick comments, all was quiet around the horn. The appeal hearing came and went. Only silence remained.

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Butler, First Base, Player Profile

Player Profile: Joey Votto

"Hey Joey, did you get the sausage and peppers?"

Joey Votto. Sounds like an insignificant character from Goodfellas. I can almost hear Ray Liota’s narration: “When I was a kid I used to get the wise guys’ beers during their card games down at Joey Votto’s. What a buncha gindaloons.” Joey Votto is no fringe mobster, but he is pretty gangster when it comes to hitting a baseball. So gangster, in fact, that you’ll find him in the top five of most experts’ preseason player rankings. I love stats, and there’s a lot to like about Votto’s. Whether it’s his career OPS of .955, BA of .313, or .237 ISO, he is as dominant a left-handed hitter as there is in the game. Stats like OPS, BA, and ISO are a great measure of a hitter’s true ability because unlike RBI or runs, they are absent any reliance upon others to be on base or drive them in. ISO treats a leadoff double the same as one with the bases loaded; it’s about pure power, fluky variables be damned.

Here’s a fun idea! Let’s compare Votto to the consensus No. 1-ranked player in fantasy baseball, the mighty Miguel Cabrera:


Votto: 12.9 18.4 0.70 .313 .405 .550 .955 .237 .352 1.19 23.9 41.3 34.8 19.4

Cabrera: 11.1 17.5 0.64 .317 .395 .555 .950 .239 .347 1.13 21.3 41.7 37.0 18.3

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