Posts tagged player profile

Fantasy Baseball Player Profile: Evan Longoria

Will Frank Sinatra...err...Evan Longoria finish 2013 as the top-ranked third baseman?

Will Frank Sinatra…err…Evan Longoria finish 2013 as the top-ranked third baseman?

By Richard Janvrin

 

A three time All-Star, two time Gold Glove Award winner, 2008 Rookie of the Year and a Silver Slugger award winner. Those are a few brilliant accolades to describe what has been nothing short of a sensational so far for the 27-year-old third baseman, Evan Longoria. Looking at those milestones and accomplishments, you would think the road to the Bigs was fairly easy for Mr. Longoria, but it was all but that.
 
The Downey, California kid Evan Longoria was a two-year letterman in baseball. Shockingly, he did not receive any scholarship offers from any schools. USC showed interest, but backed out. In order for Longoria to play baseball, he attended Rio Hondo Community College. At this time, recruiters doubted he could play Division 1 ball due to his size and weight (6’1, 170 pounds), but from Rio Hondo he transferred to Long Beach State University after being offered a scholarship. Due to the team already having an established shortstop, Longoria shifted to third base. The “established shortshop” you might ask? Colorado Rockies SS, Troy Tulowitzki. Yes, that is one hell of a tandem. While at LBSU, he hit for .320 and was given All-Conference honors. Longoria was also named MVP of the 2006 Cape Cod League and was Co Big West Conference Player of the Year. Following this, Longoria was drafted.
 
After being considered the “best pure hitter”, the (at the time) Tampa Bay Devil Rays chose Longoria with their third overall pick in the 2006 MLB First Year Player Draft. He received a $3MM signing bonus. Following the draft, Longoria was placed in their Single-A affiliate, Hudson Valley Renegades, but before the season was over he had been brought up to Double-A, the Montgomery Biscuits. In total, during the 2006 season, Longoria combined for 62 games, with 18 HR, 58 RBI’s, and possessed a .315/.360/.597 batting line. Longoria continued this success in to the 2007 season.
 
During the 2007 season, Longoria played in 105 games for the Biscuits hitting 21 HR with 76 RBI’s and also a not to shabby .302/.403/.528 batting line. This success through the 105 Double-A games elevated him to Triple-A, the Durham Bulls.
 
In only 31 games to cap off the 2007 season with the Bulls, Longoria added another 5 HR’s, and 19 RBI’s and combined, had a grand total of 26 HR’s, 95 RBI’s and held a very admirable .299/.402/.520 batting line. But 2008 would be Longoria’s year.
 
On April 12, 2008, after many thought Longoria would open the season as the new look Rays (changed from Devil Rays to Rays the 2008 season) starting third baseman, but sent down to complete his development, the Rays incumbent starting third baseman Willy Aybar was placed on the disabled list which forced a Longoria call-up after only a total of 38 Triple-A games between ’07-’08. He also replaced Aybar on the 40-man roster. During his Major League debut he went 1 for 3 with an RBI and two days later hit his first career home run against the Yankees. Six days after his call-up, the Rays blessed Longoria with a 6-year contract worth $17.5MM with options during 2014, 2015, 2016. The original deal plus the options would have made the deal worth a total of $44MM. During his rookie season, Longoria won the 2008 All-Star Final Fan vote over White Sox OF Jermaine Dye, Royals outfielder Jose Guillen, Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi and the Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. He had also participated in the Home Run Derby where he hit only 3 home runs. Though ultimately defeated in five games, Longoria led the once terrible Tampa Bay Rays to a World Series where they were defeated by the Philadelphia Phillies. Longoria finished the 2008 season with AL Rookie of the Year honors and with 27 HR’s, 85 RBI’s, 7 SB’s and a .272/.343/.531 batting line. 2009 would hold more accomplishment, statistically wise.
 
Before the 2009 season began, Longoria replaced 3B Chipper Jones on the USA World Baseball Classic roster, a huge honor for any player. Though the Rays fell short of the playoffs that season, Longoria had a career year. He hit 33 HR’s, 113 RBI’s, and hit for .281/.364/.526. He was also awared with a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Though the homer’s dipped, Longoria’s overall personal stats improved in 2010.
 
During the 2010 season, Longoria had a career high in average at .294 and an impressive 46 doubles. He also had 22 HR’s and 104 RBI’s. The Rays made the playoffs, but lost in the American League Divisional Series to the Texas Rangers, 3 games to 2. If you were to ask him today, I’d bet Longoria would say 2011 was one of his more memorable years.
 
Despite injuring his oblique and only playing in 133 games in 2011, Longoria made the biggest impact. On the final day of the regular season, in extra innings, Longoria hit a walk-off home run to send the Rays in to the playoffs just 3 minutes after the Red Sox finished a historically bad collapse by going 7-20 in September. The Rays would again fail to beat the Rangers in the American League Divisional Series again, but they accomplished the biggest comeback in Major League history. Longoria finished the year with a career low .244 batting average, but had 31 HR’s and 99 RBI’s. After a great 2011, you’d think 2012 would be nothing but great too, right? Wrong.
 
2012 was a devastating year for Longoria and Rays fans everywhere. On April 30th, against the Seattle Mariners at the Trop, Longoria tore his hamstring causing him to miss 85 games, was placed on the 60-day DL and the Rays went 41-44 during that span. The Rays missed the playoffs.
During the 2012 off-season, Longoria and the Rays agreed to a 6-year, $100MM deal and will keep the beloved third baseman in Tampa Bay through the 2023 season making Rays fans everywhere (including me) smile.
 
Through 637 Major League games, Longoria has a total of 652 hits, 130 HR’s, 456 RBI’s, and a career line of .276/.361/.516. Through 25 post-season games, Longoria has 8 HR’s, 18 RBI’s, but a fairly disappointing batting line of .194/.255/.490.
 
It’s safe to say Evan Longoria is one of, if not the best third baseman in the game today. Longoria, thus far, has had a very promising, illustrious career and at this rate and pending good health, will continue to do so for a very, very long time. Longoria and his wife (Jamie Edmonson, January 2010 Playmate of the Month) were blessed with their first child on February 20, 2013, Elle Leona Longoria.

 

By Richard Janvrin
 

Fantasy Baseball Player Profile: Hunter Pence

Is there a more consistent player than Hunter Pence?

Is there a more consistent player than Hunter Pence?

By Seth Klein

 

Since coming onto the scene with Houston Astros in 2007, Hunter Pence has been a model of consistency in the majors. In his rookie season he hit 17 HRs with 69 RBIs, placing 3rd in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, behind only Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki. He had 147 hits in only 456 ABs and accumulated an .899 OPS, which would have been good enough for 12th in the league this past season. He is a career .285 hitter and since that rookie year he has not had a single season where he has failed to hit at least 22 HRs and has not played less than 154 games once. A midseason acquisition each of the past two seasons, he was a crucial part of the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies team that won the NL East and a key cog in the San Francisco Giants World Series run this past season.
 
When it comes to this season’s fantasy drafts his ADP (123.9) has been lower than in recent years, which in my opinion, it shouldn’t be. I am a big fan of two things when I draft: going after guys in free-agency years and avoiding guys with a history of injuries, and Pence qualifies in BOTH of these categories. Focusing on drafting someone who can almost guarantee you 580-600 ABs as well as someone who is potentially playing for a big payday is not a bad place to start. What seems to be the knock on him is that once coming over to the Giants his numbers dropped substantially, but I think those numbers may be a fluke. While his BA was non-existent, during his final 99 ABs he hit 5 HRs and had 23 RBIs, with every at bat coming against interdivision opponents. Those numbers aren’t amazing, yet they are serviceable, and I can attest his 2nd half decline to a few things. First and foremost, any player leaving the bandbox that is Citizens Bank Ballpark is bound to have a dip in their power numbers, so that is a knock against him right off that bat (pun intended). He has never been a poster child for plate vision, but his eye seemed to be noticeably poor in the final two months, which was evidenced by his 2.58 K/BB ratio. Another terrible stat was his abysmal 1.11 groundball/fly ball ratio. His GB/FB ratio ranked as the 20th worst in the league and he had 8 more HRs than any of the players lower than him on that list, which shows that the power is still there. He often places in the bottom of the league in that category, so that is not unusual, but with the previous knowledge of his career .285 BA, there’s reason to believe that he simply wasn’t finding the holes in 2012. What helps to nullify the obvious stigma that comes with those stats, is that all three of those deficiencies are all related. The switch to a new home ballpark can easily mess with a player as it can take some time to get used to the backdrop behind the pitcher as well as where the shadows are. If this takes longer than usual the strikeouts will start to pile up and frustration will ensue. When that happens a hitter can tend to get anxious, which could result in him pulling off the ball, thus causing many weakly hit groundballs. After an entire offseason to get acquainted with his somewhat new team and their digs, I fully expect him to return to his usual career averages.
 
Another thing to note when deciding whether or not to draft Pence is that he hits both righties and lefties equally well. Over the past three seasons he’s batting .284 vs. RHP and .279 vs. LHP with a slight upgrade in his power vs. LHP. This is an important stat to know for owners because it makes him an everyday player and won’t put him in a platoon with someone else. All this negative talk about plummeting stats and a low ADP and one can quickly forget that he set a career-high in RBIs (104) and was only 1 HR shy of his career-high of 25 dingers. According to current ADPs, if given the right scenario, I’d draft him ahead of fellow outfielders Michael Bourn (73.8), Mark Trumbo (84), Melky Cabrera (98.5) and Nelson Cruz (111.4).
 
2013 Prediction for Hunter Pence: .299 BA, 89 R, 22 HR, 93 RBI, 10 SB

 

By Seth Klein
 
Seth was born and raised in Los Angeles, but is a lifelong Knicks, Giants and Yankees fan. He hates any team from Boston and the Dallas Cowboys, and attended the University of Arizona. Seth now spends his days as a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist.
 

R.A. Dickey 2013 Player Profile

What is so funny about inconsistency?

What is so funny about inconsistency?

I believe that Willie Stargell summed up knuckleballs best when he said “Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor’s mailbox.” The pitch was originally invented to minimize the spin of the ball in flight, which causes an erratic, unpredictable motion.  Originally viewed as a “trick” pitch, the knuckleball is developed by pitchers who are converted to using the motion after experiencing limited success with conventional pitches, such as the case of R.A. Dickey.

 

Dickey was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the first round of the 1996 draft. After noticing that he was missing a ligament in his right elbow joint, doctors were surprised that he could pitch at all, much less effectively to major league hitters. After making his debut in 2001, he experienced only marginal success for the next several years, often being called back and forth from AAA. He switched clubs during the next few years, appearing for both the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners, before being signed by the New York Mets in 2010.

 

Since 2010 Dickey has experienced major success in the National League, posting an ERA under 3.28 in each of the last three seasons, including posting a sparkling 2.73 ERA last season, the cherry atop of his 20 win, Cy-Young Award winning season. After taking a step back and looking at his career, one would wonder what took him so long to start succeeding and if this newfound success is sustainable. Viewed by most major publications going into the 2013 season as one of the top 20 pitchers in baseball, its widely been assumed that his 2012 performance is repeatable. But is that really the case? Knuckleball pitchers can often experience enormous amounts of success in any given season before retreating back to mediocrity, with Tim Wakefield being a good example.

 

Wakefield, similar to Dickey, has experienced successful seasons in the past. He won more than 15 games four times in his career, but each time had at least a season of mediocrity in between, including one stretch from 1999-2005 with barely winning 12 games. Since throwing the knuckleball is incredibly difficult to control for an extended period of time, it has developed the reputation of being a “feel” pitch which can quickly desert the hurler at any point in time.  Such is the case with Dickey this spring, who in his recent World Baseball Classic debut, was absolutely lit up by the country of Mexico, despite them not having a very star-studded lineup. Moving from the NL to the AL East is always going to negatively impact a pitcher’s ERA and WHIP, so the concerns that people have about Dickey repeating last year’s 2012 campaign are absolutely reasonable.

 

Dickey’s supporters like to point out that he isn’t a “traditional” knuckleball pitcher since his throwing speed is greatly increased compared to others that have thrown the pitch in the past (Dickey can top out close to 85MPH, whereas other knuckleballers never broke 72MPH). Although this sounds good in theory, other pitches that are thrown have great deals of movement and also vary in speed such as curveballs and sliders. Batters have adjusted to those in the past, much as I believe that they will adjust to Dickey in 2013. Regardless of how the pitch looks getting into the strike zone, it will still need to get there at some point, somehow.

 

I firmly believe that we can expect a great deal of regression from Dickey in this upcoming season, especially since the track record of knuckleball pitchers, much like the pitch itself, is entirely too random to be trusted. I would much rather draft a proven pitcher around Dickey’s ADP (92.22 as of 3/10/13) such as Zack Grienke (90.28), Roy Halladay (92.77) or CC Sabathia (103.37) rather than relying on lightning striking twice. Whereas I don’t see Dickey completely falling apart this season, I would definitely expect a drop in wins and a significant spike in ERA and WHIP. Although hitters have always had a tough time succeeding against the pitch (another great quote describing this is Charley Lau, who said “There are two theories on hitting the knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither of them works.”) I would still recommend to draft Dickey with caution! Fantasy Trade 411’s Mike Gianella currently has Dickey penciled in for the following stat line in 2013:

 

15 Wins, 3.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 185 Ks.

 

A veteran fantasy sports player/commissioner for the better part of a decade, I am a contributing writer for several major fantasy websites including FantasyTrade411.com, Rotowire.com and Going9baseball.com. I am always willing to share my advice and opinions on your questions and the latest fantasy news. Feel free to contact me with any sports related inquires on twitter @Roto_Wizard, or by e-mail at RotoWizard01@yahoo.com.

 

Edwin Encarnacion 2013 Player Profile

Everything came together for E5 in 2012, but is it repeatable?

Have you ever experienced a moment where the stars all align? Where everything seems to go your way and nothing bothers you? For most of us those moments are few and far between, but I’m pretty sure that Edwin Encarnacion had a permanent “moment” in 2012. All of the issues that had held him back in prior years (e.g., lack of ABs due to health issues, extended cold streaks, a minor league demotion) were in the rear view mirror for “E5” last year.  Encarnacion has always been one of those “what if” players for me. What if he could simply just stay healthy for a full year? What if those hot streaks could last just a little bit longer? What kind of numbers could he put up? Those questions were answers loudly and clearly in 2012, as Encarnacion put up one heck of a statistical season:

 

.280 AVG 152 H 93 R 42 HR 110 RBI 13 SB

 

Cory Schwartz managed to ride him, along with a solid roster, to a TOUT Wars mixed league title in 2012, and his article “E5: A Love Story” was featured in The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2013. Schwartz (along with many others) has long been an Encarnacion supporter, and was handsomely rewarded last year. But it is possible for him to even come close to repeating those numbers this year? Or should we expect a ton of regression and over-spending? In my estimation, 2012 was probably the peak of his production, but his 2013 campaign should also be very strong, providing he can stay on the field for 525 + plate appearences.

 

Although I could point to many reasons why I believe that Encarnacion’s 2012 numbers are (mostly) repeatable, two currently stick out in my mind:
 

  1. Nothing that he demonstrated in 2012 was a “new” skill to him, other than stealing 10+ bases.
  2. His 2012 first and second half splits were VERY similar, meaning that he didn’t suddenly flip a switch in September or October. He was consistently good ALL season long.

 

As I mentioned earlier, “E5” has always had his share of both critics and supporters. After a solid 2008 season in which he hit 26 HRs with 68 RBIs, many wondered if he would be capable of taking that “next step” in his development the following season. Encarnacion struggled mightily under the hype, posting only a .225 AVG with 13 HRs before being demoted back to the minor leagues for a stretch of time. He also started to develop the “injury bug” which ended up costing him 81 days with a fractured wrist and knee soreness. Many wondered if this constant see-sawing back and forth between AAA and the MLB suggested if he was just one of those “quadruple A” players that couldn’t demonstrate consistent success for a multi-year stretch. Encarnacion teased his fantasy owners again in 2010, posting 21 HRs in only 96 games played before missing another 50 days with a sprained wrist and shoulder. Although he bounced back and mostly avoided the DL in 2011, his owners were still left wondering… what if.

 

Then came 2012.

 

Finally reaching 500+ ABs for the first time since 2008, Encarnacion silenced all critics in a major way with an outstanding first half of the year. Despite being snubbed as an All-Star selection, he posted a .289 AVG with 22 HRs and 55 RBIs. The second half of the season provided equally impressive statistics as he put up a .271 AVG with 20 HRs and 55 RBIs.

 

As a fantasy baseball writer, when you attempt to predict regression for a player in an upcoming season, its common to point to a particular statistic that seems out of place, or lucky. I can’t really do that with Encarnacion. Sure, his HR totals were higher than previous years, but he’s put up 23 HRs in three of the past five seasons, including one where he barely accumulated 360 AB. Toronto has a bolstered lineup in 2013 complete with Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera and a healthy Jose Bautista. This should provide plenty of RBI opportunities and runs for him. His batting average was slightly higher than years past, but not terribly out of line. Bottom line? I expect him not to fully repeat his gaudy 2012 numbers, but I don’t predict a severe amount of regression.

 

In our 2013 draft guide, Mike Gianella penciled E5 for the following projected season:
 
.261 AVG 34 HR 98 RBI 11 SB

 

Here’s hoping the stars continue to align for E5.
 
A veteran fantasy sports player/commissioner for the better part of a decade, I am a contributing writer for several major fantasy websites including FantasyTrade411.com, Rotowire.com and Going9baseball.com. I am always willing to share my advice and opinions on your questions and the latest fantasy news. Feel free to contact me with any sports related inquires on twitter @Roto_Wizard, or by e-mail at RotoWizard01@yahoo.com.