Butler, Outfield, Player Profile

Player Profile: Mike Trout


Earthquakes are no joke.

I started watching baseball in 1989. I still distinctly remember the Giants beating the Cubs in the NLCS before being swept by a far superior Bash Brother-powered Oakland A’s team in a World Series made memorable more by the earthquake than for anything else that happened on the field. The respective NL and AL Rookies of the Year that season were Chicago’s Jerome Walton and Baltimore’s Gregg Olson, who is not to be confused with 1920s Negro League star Greggg Olson. Walton would go on to have an exceptionally mediocre 10-year career (25 home runs, 132 RBI in 598 games), while Olson saved 217 games with a respectable 3.46 ERA. Winning the ROY does not always portend a stellar career; for every Mike Piazza there is a Ben Grieve, and for every Justin Verlander there is a Jason Jennings. In my lifetime, players like Nomar Garciaparra, Ichiro Suzuki, Ryan Braun, and Albert Pujols have produced incredible rookie seasons and gone on to become superstars.

Piazza’s rookie season remains, to me, the most impressive. Not because he was selected in the 62nd round by Tommy Lasorda as a Mafia-style favor to Mike’s father, but because he did it from the catcher position. Great hitter, but mobile as a microphone stand (17 career SB). In 2001 Ichiro became only the second rookie to win league MVP. He’s one of the great jackrabbits (452 career SB), but has averaged 55 RBI and 8.6 HR per season. Ryan Braun, who bravely succeeded where all others failed in resisting the nefarious overtures of deposed U of Miami strength coach, scumbag, and roid pusher Jimmy Goins, discovered each of the past two seasons that stealing 30 bags isn’t that hard. Garciaparra had little interest in running. Pujols has sneaky, opportunistic retard speed.


When asked if he had any clue how he would play in 2013, even Mike Trout said, “Go fish.”

And then there’s Mike Trout, who as a rookie displayed a power/speed/average combination the likes of which had not been approached since before Barry Bonds became a hydrocephalic, baseball-murdering gargoyle. He steals bases (49 thefts in 54 attempts) at will and tracks pitches like a cyborg.  Continue reading

Butler, Prospects

You’re Only a Greenhorn Once Pt. 1

[Editor’s Note: This is a two part article, the remaining prospects will be discussed in an article released later this month]

Every season, by the time it’s all said and done, fantasy rosters are littered with impactful rookies. Many of them either didn’t enter the year in the majors, or began as a reserve player or middle reliever. Trying to forecast playing time and production for rookie players is tricky. In most cases the managers who end up with them are the ones who pay the closest attention, or get lucky. I’m not even going to attempt any kind of projections, but here are some players who might be worth a spot on your squad. If not at the start, then by the end.

Weird warm-ups are just part of the baggage that comes with Bauer.

Weird warm-ups are just part of the baggage that comes with Bauer.

Trevor Bauer- SP-CLE: The erstwhile Bruin ran afoul of teammates and coaches alike during his brief time in Arizona, in large part due to a perceived unwillingness to heed advice from either. Throw in a disastrous four starts and you have a recipe for a sell-low trade of a highly regarded prospect. From shaking off veteran catcher Miguel Montero on the first pitch of his career to his refusal to modify his strenuous warm-up routine, Bauer clearly was not about to adhere to the accepted rookie code of conduct. Some say the mechanical engineering major is too smart for his own good. Some say he has an IQ of 170. Some say he can solve a Rubik’s Cube using only his mind. Some say he’s a real piece of work. One thing Bauer is actually quite modest about is his assessment of his God-given physical talents; he firmly believes that he was not born a great pitcher but rather was made into one, in large part due to his unconventional training regiment. He’s employed it since he was very young, and it involves the use of rubber bands, medicine balls, 400-foot long toss, weighted baseballs, and year-round throwing. It is the diametric opposite of the current philosophy adhered to by most clubs when dealing with young pitchers, which is pitch counts, innings limits, and rest, rest, and more rest. The Indians will have a decision to make: allow Bauer to continue his workout routine or curtail it in keeping with the current paradigm of arm-babying. Whatever they decide to do, he’s got a decent shot at cracking the starting rotation.

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Butler, Overrated, Starting Pitchers

Pitchers Not on the E-mailing List

Early in the season, the default excuse for slow-starting hitters, used by apologetic club announcers and baseball pundits is, “the pitchers are ahead of the hitters right now.” And that’s fine, but stale platitudes do nothing to meliorate the condition of the anxious fantasy owner as he watches his team go five-for-41 on the daily. This should be a good time of the year to be a pitcher. I even had my spambot generate a mass email to every Major League pitchers’ inbox reminding them of such.

These guys had their filters on.

This dog is tired.

Francisco Liriano- I just checked, and Liriano is owned in 22% of Y! public leagues. If you drafted him hoping that he would return to his 2010 form, I’m not saying you’re a Polyanna, but you’re really into hanging prisms. How a player managed to pitch markedly better in the old Homerdome than he has in the most pitcher-friendly park in the AL is beyond me. Wait, no it isn’t! By far, Liriano’s best years were 2006 and 2010, when he went a combined 26-13. During those years his average GB% was 54.5. Take away those two seasons and his career GB% is 43.2. That’s just one example, but if you look at his K/9, BB/9, and HR/9 from the same seasons, they too were far superior than his career marks. Liriano has a low-90s fastball, but he has had his best success when he relies more on his slider, something he’s gotten away from. He’s a very average pitcher who has at times managed to parlay his talent into sporadic Major League success. There are plenty of  other, non-ERA assassins, even in deeper leagues.

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Butler, Player Profile, Shortstop, Third Base

Player Profile: Hanley Ramirez

"Juego al fútbol ahora."

At the start of spring training last season, Hanley Ramirez and former double-play partner Dan Uggla made a wager to see who would have the worst numbers come the All-Star break. It was determined that the loser would buy the winner a “surf and turf” dinner at Black Angus. Neither did at all well in the first half, but with the muscular Uggla hitting well below his weight on July 10, victory was his. He could almost taste the filet mignon and grilled prawns (additionally he would have a works baked potato, steamed broccoli, a Caesar salad with extra croutons, and maybe a nice Pinot Noir; Uggla envisions his meals to the finest detail). Ramirez saw the writing on the wall, and through a club-appointed interpreter, offered him double-or-nothing to extend the bet to the end of the season. Uggla looked at his own 43/15/34/.185 line and accepted the new terms, figuring his season was irretrievably in the toilet. By the end of September, however, Uggla was the hottest hitter in the NL, while Hanley hadn’t played in two months. Uggla felt so bad for Hanley that he upped the ante and treated him to dim sum at P.F. Chang’s.

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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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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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Butler, Players of the Week

Players of Week 17

by Ryan Butler

"Ain't burstin' my bubble yet."

Billy Butler (6/5/12/0/.406) 13-for-32: Not sure what got into Billy “No Relation” Butler but, boy howdy, he was feeling frisky last week. Everybody knows that Butler can swing it; he’s a .298 career hitter. He’s a bit of a bummer in the power and production departments though. He hit 21 home runs in 2009 with a career-high 93 RBI. 51 doubles that season helped him to a respectable .853 OPS. He also struck out a career-high 103 times. That’s not a high K total for a guy with 678 PA, but his next -highest single-season K total is 78 in 2010. Perhaps he vowed to never again punch out 100 times, power numbers be damned. He has an outside shot at reaching 20 home runs this season (he’s got 13) and will probably reach the 80 RBI mark (currently 58). He’s a nice utility player because of his good BA, but I wouldn’t  want to roll with him as my starting first baseman.

Joey Votto (7/4/9/0/.385) 10-for-26: Hardly seems to fair to say that a guy hitting .324 with a .953 OPS has had a disappointing season, but Votto set the bar very high last year when he lead the league with a Bondsian 1.024 OPS on his way to winning the NL MVP, garnering 31 of 32 first-place votes (he almost Caminiti’d it). But the fact is that his production is down this year, and he’s not going to get anywhere near the 37 HR, 113 RBI, or 16 SB that he had last season. OK, so steals from a first baseman may be viewed as an ancillary statistic, and a .324 BA and .941 are great, but, he should have more than 17 home runs playing his home games in the Great American Phone Booth.

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