Friday, July 16, 2010

Grading the Rookies

posted by Pauly
Here’s a look at rookies who are making a fantasy impact – either positive or negative – this season. Much like a kindergarten teacher, I don’t have the heart to give any rookie an “F” – if only for the plain fact that they are rookies and they deserve a little bit of slack. I hope I don’t leave anybody out. Here we go…

The A’s: The Future Has Arrived - Guys who should be rostered and/or starting in just about any league
1. Brennan Boesch (OF-DET): 243AB 12HR 49RBI .341/.397/.593: Go to the head of the class, Mr. Boesch. Jim Leyland surprised most people when he called up Boesch so early, but the rookie slugger has proven Leyland to be a genius. Despite being a free-swinger, the ROY candidate should continue to see plenty of RBI opportunities batting behind AL triple crown challenger Miguel Cabrera.
2. Jaime Garcia (SP-STL): 98 IP (8-4) 80K/40BB 2.17 ERA 1.25 WHIP: As I have written in the past, Garcia has the best ERA of any starting pitcher in the league outside of Josh Johnson. His success is yet another testament to the effectiveness of Tommy John surgery. While I expect his numbers to slide a bit, a strong second half is looming.
3. Neftali Feliz (RP-TEX): 38 IP (1-2) 42K/13BB 3.82 ERA 1.06 WHIP 23 Saves: Feliz took over the closing duties in April and has never looked back. He is tied for fourth in MLB with his 23 saves; his K:BB ratio is terrific; he has nasty stuff; and he looks to have locked down the closer’s job in Texas for years to come.
4. Jason Heyward (OF-ATL): 259AB 11HR 45RBI .247/.362/.448: Once a shoo-in for ROY after an amazing start to the season, a thumb injury and the resulting decline in power and batting average have thrown a wrench into the machine. However, don’t go rushing to trade, him, I expect him to surge to the head of the rookie class once again in the second half – he is just way too good not to.
5. Mike Leake (SP-CIN): 110 IP (6-1) 70K/39BB 3.53 ERA 1.40 WHIP: The man who took what was supposed to be Aroldis Chapman’s job out of spring training has proven that the brass in Cincinnati knew exactly what they were doing.
6. Buster Posey (C/1B-SF): 141AB 7HR 26RBI .355/.392/.567: In the week before the All-Star break, Posey posted the best statistical week of any hitter this season. He scored more in my points league than any other hitter in any other week by nearly 20 points. Here was the amazing line: 15-27, 0.556 BA, 8 1B, 1 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 9 R, 3 BB. Now that Bengie Molina is gone to Texas, nothing is standing in Posey’s way.
7. Carlos Santana (C-CLE): 95AB 5HR 16RBI .284/.425/.568: While the raw numbers don’t match Posey’s, Santana’s OBP and SLG are proving that he is no run-of-the-mill catcher. Expect a huge second half.
8. John Axford (RP-MIL): 26 IP (5-1) 32K/11BB 3.12 ERA 1.27 WHIP 10 Saves: Like ships passing in the night, the career of Axford is taking off just about as fast as Trevor Hoffman’s is sinking. And he shouldn’t see much competition for saves in Milwaukee.
9. Gaby Sanchez (1B-FLA): 315AB 9HR 38RBI .302/.365/.467: A red-hot June and July have thrust Sanchez into the ROY discussion, and he shouldn’t be available in your league any more.
10. Ike Davis (1B-NYM): 279AB 11HR 40RBI .255/.332/.430: Davis keeps chugging along, and the return of Carlos Beltran should offer him even more lineup protection. However, Davis could be in another rough stretch – he hit just .243 in the 10 games leading up to the break.
11. Austin Jackson (OF-DET): 313AB 1HR 20RBI 14SB .300/.354/.403: Despite the usual ups and downs you would expect from a rookie, Jackson is showing that he has the potential to end up being a prototypical leadoff hitter for years to come – if he can cut down on his strikeouts (88 – way too many) and improve on his OBP. I’d like to see more steals too, but it’s hard to complain about this line from a rookie.
12. Stephen Strasburg (SP-WAS): 43IP (3-2) 61K/11BB 2.32 ERA 1.01 WHIP: I wasn’t going to include Strasburg on the “A list” – mainly because of the rumors that Washington is going to shut him down early. But how can you not include him on the A list with those numbers and that potential?

The B’s: The Future is Almost Here - Major contributors mostly rosterable but with consistency issues
1. Sean Rodriguez (2B-TB): 219AB 6HR 30RBI 7SB .265/.302/.425: The guy has terrific numbers in June, but he limped into the All-Star break, and I need to see extended production in July/August before I’m a 100% buyer. That said, he isn’t really being challenged for playing time, so there is ample opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle again.
2. David Freese (3B-CIN): 240AB 4HR 36RBI .296/.360/.404: The average is great, but we are still waiting for some power. An ankle injury doesn’t help matters.
3. Jonathan Niese (SP-NYM): 90IP (6-3) 73K/28BB 3.61 ERA 1.36 WHIP: For the most part, Niese has looked very good despite battling a few injuries here and there. Note that he – like the rest of the Mets squad – is a much better player at home than on the road. His home ERA (3.23) is a full point better than on the road (4.24).
4. Brian Matusz (SP-BAL): 104 IP (3-9) 80K/38BB 4.775 ERA 1.45 WHIP: The Baltimore factor makes starting him difficult – especially in H2H leagues; however, the K:BB ratio is something to hang your hat on.
5. Justin Smoak (1B-SEA): 247AB 8HR 34RBI .202/.307/.340: To say that anyone hitting .202 is inconsistent would likely be an understatement. He still has great potential and a job in Seattle, but I don’t think the Mariners gig is nearly as promising as one in Texas – less protection in the lineup and a more difficult home park for hitters.

The C’s: Pure Futures - Keep them on your radar, but don’t stampede anyone to get to the waiver wire yet
1. Tyler Colvin (OF-CHC): 183AB 12 HR 32RBI .268/.320/.536: He slowed down in July (.200 average), but his power numbers have been consistent. Playing time should not be an issue in the second half – meaning he can definitely help you in the power department.
2. Madison Bumgarner (SP-SF): 28IP (2-2) 21K/5BB 2.57 ERA 1.04 WHIP: Another guy to keep a close eye on, Bumgarner is 2-0 with one run allowed over 14 innings with 11 strikeouts in his last two starts. A big second half could be looming here.
3. Drew Storen (RP-WAS): 26IP (2-1) 20K/11BB 2.45 ERA 1.21 WHIP: He is on this list because the rumor is that Matt Capps is going to be traded – and Storen should step immediately into the closer’s role, and he should probably keep it for the next few years at least.
4. Mike Stanton (OF-FLA): 108AB 5HR 20RBI .231/.276/.435: The Marlins rushed him up to the majors, and he is paying the price. Major League pitching has proven to be quite a difference from the double-A level. Still, he showed some flashes of his power potential right before the break.
5. Wade Davis (SP-TB): 94 IP (6-9) 62K/42BB 4.69 ERA 1.46 WHIP: He hasn’t lost his job and he has good stuff. Just waiting for it all to come together consistently with that offense behind him. It looks to me like next year will be his year to shine.
6. Alcides Escobar (SS-MIL): 287AB 2HR 24RBI 7SB .240/.297/.324: Highly touted on draft day, his lack of steals and plate discipline has been his downfall this season. But he shouldn’t be losing at-bats in the second half.
7. Jhoulys Chacin (SP-COL): 77IP (5-7) 80K/35BB 4.09 ERA 1.32 WHIP: I have a true aversion to Colorado pitchers, but Chacin has been solid as rookie pitchers go.
8. John Jaso (C-TB): 175AB 3HR 29RBI .274/.393/.377: It escapes me why Tampa isn’t playing Jaso even more than he already is. He’s a good contact hitter who can get on base for the power bats in Tampa, but he is in a time-share with Kelly Shoppach right now.
9. Starlin Castro (SS-CHC): 200AB 2HR 24RBI 2SB .280/.341/.405: Castro has shown some flashes of brilliance (mostly when he was first called up) – but he has been unspectacular in the fantasy world, unable to produce great numbers in the stolen base, OBP or runs categories.
10. Ian Desmond (SS-WAS): 271AB 6HR 36RBI 8SB .254/.297/.395: He has been better in July than June (which was a disaster). He has a decent combination of power and speed, so check his numbers at the end of the month and look for a positive trend.
11. Pedro Alvarez (3B-PIT): 84AB 3HR 11RBI .214/.272/.381: A recent call-up, Alvarez is batting .289 in July with all three of his HR. He is the 3B of the future in Pittsburgh, and it looks like the future is now. Keep an eye on him.

The D’s: The Future ISN'T now - not likely to contribute to your fantasy team this season
1. Jason Donald (SS-CLE): 146AB 2HR 12RBI .274/.329/.425: Besides being known as the guy who was out, but he was really called safe during Armando Galarraga’s perfect game, he entered the All-Star break on fire, hitting .389 in his last six games. Asdrubal Cabrera’s impending return, however, will put a damper on Donald’s production.
2. John Ely (SP-LAD): 80IP (4-7) 59K/25BB 4.63 ERA 1.32 WHIP: To me, Ely looks overmatched in the majors right now – and the Dodgers are doing everything they can to pick up another starting pitcher. He was optioned to AAA on Sunday of this week.
3. Roger Bernadina (OF-WAS): 181AB 5HR 24RBI 7SB .282/.345/.437: Since being called up, Bernadina has played well, but often sits against left-handed pitching.
4. Neil Walker (2B/3B-PIT): 142AB 3HR 12RBI .247/.318/.423: He has respectable hitting numbers and plays just about every day, but he just isn’t producing enough in the counting categories.
5. Reid Brignac (SS-TB): 189AB 2HR 25RBI .265/.329/.365: Sean Rodriguez has stolen his thunder; and despite Jason Bartlett’s struggles, Brignac isn’t much more than a pinch hitter right now.
6. Jose Tabata (OF-PIT): 116AB 1HR 6RBI 8SB .241/.323/.328: He’s a speed guy, but his lack of power and disciplined hitting puts him on the D-list.
7. Scott Sizemore (2B-DET): 97AB 1HR 8RBI .206/.297/.289: He was drafted in many leagues this year, but he has proven to be a bust.
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8 Comments:

Blogger 3FingersBrown said...

Nice article Jon. A few notes:

Based on Tabata's MiLB OBP rates, I like him more than most as a cheap speed option. Bernadina too. He was pretty hot in June before a sore back cut into his playing time. You're right though, we need to see more of what he can do vs. lefties.

Alcides has been a huge disappointment. We were hoping for a lot more from the speedy SS but of course hitting 8th won't help matters. I don't think he'll be much a factor this year.

Chacin's in the pen now, so I think it's safe to move him down a tier.

Hey you forgot Blank Man. He was highly touted in the preseason and Blanks proceeded to crap on fantasy owners who took a flier on him (like me). I had high hopes for the slugger and who knows, maybe he'll learn the strike zone. With his tremendous power, if he "gets it," he'll be a force in the future.

I love Matusz' make up but the O's are horrible - lineup, defense, bullpen all have hurt him mightily.

Do you see Jeremy Hellickson making an impact in the 2nd half? If Davis falters, I think the Rays have to make a move. He's been money in AAA. His K/BB rate is drool worthy and he's MLB ready. For fantasy purposes, I'm hoping Hellboy isn't sent to the 'pen a la Price in '08.

What other rooks do you think might make an impact down the stretch? Jennings, Carter, Wallace, Brown?

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 2:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Pauly said...

Hey, I was the writer on this one Andre.

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 2:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Pauly said...

Blanks was definitely an oversight, but the guy looks totally lost whenever he's at the plate.

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 2:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger 3FingersBrown said...

Sorry Pauly, my bad! Easy to overlook Blanks, he was a no-show even when he was up in the bigs.

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 3:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jon Williams said...

Good Piece, Andre -- just kidding, Pauly. ;)

Not much to argue with there. I like Tabata but his transformation into a stolen base guy surprised me. Most of the scouting reports I read projected him as a above average power guy with average to maybe slightly above average.

I never expected to see Bernadina get as many at-bats as he has. He is the type of player (mediocre power and speed) that is often lumped into the fourth outfielder category.

Alcides Escobar has to be the bust of the season.

Chacin still has another level in him, if not two more.

I haven't figred ot the Rays yet. They always seem to do the opposite of what I expect. That said, I think we'll see Hellickson in the rotation very soon.

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 5:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Greg said...

Pauly, I enjoyed the rookie rundown. I can speak from experience that Scott Sizemore was a bust. Fortunately, McGehee has worked out OK for me at 2nd base.

Any thoughts on Travis Wood down the stretch for Cincy? I've taken a flier on him because of his strikeout numbers, but it's a total guess. He's done well in his first 3 games. Not much to go by, but I suppose that's better than being bad in his first 3 games.

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 11:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Pauly said...

Greg-
Well his third start was pretty darn good, but I really dont know much about him yet either.

Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 2:12:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Max said...

Colvin is very streaky, so if he gets on a tear pick him up and sell high. Check out thefantasybaseballguru.com leave comments and ask questions

Monday, July 19, 2010 at 5:06:00 PM EDT  

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