Brian, Debate, Feature, Outfield, Player Profile, Prospects, reality blog

The Tragedy of Potential


Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!

-Anne Frank

Mike Darr was an above average fielder.

Mike Darr was an above average fielder.

The Phoenix night grew older as Mike Darr, Duane Johnson, and Ben Howard sped down Interstate-10. The friends had been out drinking, celebrating Darr and Howard’s final night of the off-season before spring training started later that morning. Darr was slated to be the San Diego Padres’ Opening Day center fielder. It was February 16, 2002.

When Oscar Taveras got in his red Chevy Camaro in Sosua, Dominican Republic, on October 25, 2014, he’d had over 15 alcoholic drinks in about two hours. His girlfriend was in the passenger seat. Taveras started the car and began driving to Puerto Plata, his birthplace. Taveras was one of the top prospects in baseball and was all but guaranteed to be the starting right fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015.

At the time of their deaths, Darr was 25 and Taveras was 22.

When I was 22 years old, I had just graduated college and set out to live in Los Angeles to be the “next great writer.” I had it all planned out, too. Step 1: Find an apartment. Step 2: Attend UCLA. Step 3: Flat out strike it rich. It was as stupid as it was simple.

But I was young and brash and really had no fear of anything. It’s truly a beautiful age to be. The world has no expectations of you. Even though the deck is stacked against you (because, really, chances are you’re going to be a nobody-can’t-hack-it…chances are), you have no inkling of that being true. How naïve and brazen you are when you’re young. There you go, hightailing it, living your life to the fullest, flipping the bird to everyone, even Death, because there’s nothing in the world that can stop you.

I made it to L.A., the City of Angels; found myself a dingy apartment in the neighborhood of Palms; even got accepted into the UCLA Screenwriting Program. I used to get martinis after class with a friend of mine, who later went on to write for People and Spin and AP, and we would talk about screenplays, movies and the craft of writing. We were the best writers at UCLA, soon to be the best writers in the industry.

Unfortunately, when you’re young, you can’t tell if you’re talented at something or not. It’s true, either you are or you aren’t, but it’s tough to tell. I lasted a year in L.A. Clearly, I was not.

Whenever a talented person passes away young (a la James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Cliff Burton, etc.), my brain always takes me back to the time when I was hightailing it. When I was grooving through life without any breaks.

Continue reading

Standard
Brian, Outfield, Rankings

Brian’s Top 31 Outfielder Rankings and Projections for ’13


espn_a_braun_d1_600

Braun proved that not even controversy can slow him down.

I was rereading my outfield rankings for the 2012 season and, while I had a few players pegged perfectly, overall I’d missed the mark on many occasions. I wasn’t high enough on guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper (but who really saw two 20 and unders taking the league by storm?). I didn’t give Andrew McCutchen enough credit (I won’t make the same mistake this year). I was bullish on Justin Upton’s ascension, but he regressed instead. I was a mess.

Because there are so many outfielders, it’s tremendously difficult to calculate. In the following rankings, I’m sure some players near the bottom of my rankings will have career years, while some players near the top will have lamentable seasons. As a fantasy manager, you can’t project those occurrences. All you can do is look at track record (most recent stats being most important) and cross your fingers.

Even though I have Trout as my number two outfielder (and in a few weeks he’ll be ranked pretty highly in my top-100), you can’t expect him to have the same stats from last year. His peripherals suggest a decline, mainly in his power and batting average. Some super fanatics will suggest that Trout should be the number one outfielder off the board, but I’ll take the more projectable Ryan Braun in every draft.

This is supposed to be the year that Jason Heyward becomes “fantasy elite,” and he’s got a great chance to do it (he’s surrounded by outstanding talent). But Heyward still hasn’t shown that he can drive in runs consistently. I’d much rather have Adam Jones a round or two later.

Continue reading

Standard
Butler, Outfield, Player Profile

Player Profile: Mike Trout


lomaprieta

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.

mag_miller_trout01jr_576

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

Standard
Brian, Debate, Outfield, Player Profile, Projections, Questions

Jason Heyward: Better than Justin Upton?


This was just four years ago!

This was just four years ago!

If you visit Baseball-Reference.com, they have a section of their website dedicated to comparing a player’s stats with historically similar stats (whole career, current MLB years of service, and by ages). Jason Heyward is currently, at the age of 22, compared with Ruben Sierra, Andruw Jones, Jose Conseco, Juan Gonzalez, and Jack Clark. Not bad company.

Who is the only active player to make this comparison list? Justin Upton.

After the 2011 season, when Heyward struggled mightily (sophomore slump) and Upton had his best statistical season to date (fourth in NL MVP voting), if you had told me these two would be at or near the same level, this soon, I would’ve called you a crazy person and Gangnam styled off stage left. In ’11, Heyward had as much chance at being a top 50 fantasy player as Joe Paterno had at living to see his name removed from every nook and cranny of Penn State. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Continue reading

Standard
Brian, Outfield, Pick Ups, Questions, Relievers, Rumblings, Second Base, Shortstop

Early Season Observations


Elite Starting Pitchers Struggling

Timmy won't be asked to do anymore video games with an ERA over 12.00.

This is something Ryan Butler is going to touch on in an article later this week, but it’s something worth noting here. After two turns through pitching rotations, six starting pitchers ranked in the top 100 by Yahoo! have an ERA over 6.00 (Tim Lincecum, 12.91; C.C. Sabathia, 6.75; Zack Greinke, 6.75; Dan Haren, 6.97; Adam Wainwright, 11.42; and Daniel Hudson, 8.71). Yu Darvish, the Chosen One, has eight walks in two starts and his WHIP (2.21) weighs more than he does. Mat Latos has the same amount of walks as strikeouts (five).

Conversely, pitchers like Chad Billingsley, Edwin Jackson, Barry Zito, and Jonathon Niese are all pitchers who went largely undrafted in many leagues, but are ranked among the top starters through two weeks.

We’re not saying you should hit the panic button yet, but it’s a reminder that there’s always pitching to be had.

Continue reading

Standard
Outfield, Player Profile, Thaller

Player Profile: Jay Bruce


Is this the year Jay vaults into the upper echelon?

Anyone living in Cincinnati can tell you the 1970s were a long time ago. Gone are the days of the Big Red Machine and Pete “Please Let Me in the Hall of Fame” Rose. Because of this people living and working in Cincinnati have had a long time to stew over the drought of success. Well, my friends, the times are about to change. The Cincinnati Reds are on the verge of taking over the NL Central. They’re loaded with talent, and thanks to the lapse in judgment by two of the premier clubs in the division, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder have defected to the American League, leaving the door wide open for the “Baby Reds” to capture the Central crown.

Continue reading

Standard