Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Announces New Award Names

posted by Jon Williams
Baseball Bloggers Alliance Announces New Award Names

Changes reflect appreciation for history of the game

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) recently announced the renaming of their annual postseason awards to comply with the wishes of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), thereby avoiding confusion between the two organizations. This allowed the BBA an opportunity to recognize some of the legendary greats of the game, naming their highest honors after them.

“Earlier in the year, the BBA reached an agreement with former Yankee reliever Goose Gossage to name our newest award, recognizing the best relief pitcher in each league, after him,” said Daniel Shoptaw, founder and president of the Alliance. “It only seemed fitting, then, that we rename the rest of our awards after other legends of the game.”

The five awards are given to a player in each league: The Connie Mack Award, given to the top manager; the Willie Mays Award, for the top rookie; the Goose Gossage award, mentioned above; the Walter Johnson Award, which would be analogous to the BBWAA’s Cy Young Award; and the Stan Musial Award, awarded to the most valuable player in each league.

According to Shoptaw, “These names are synonymous with quality, achievement, and dedication. These names have not only stood the test of time, but have been strengthened by it.”

The schedule for the announcement of these awards is as follows:
Connie Mack Award: October 14
Willie Mays Award: October 18
Goose Gossage Award: October 21
Walter Johnson Award: October 25
Stan Musial Award: October 28
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was founded in 2009 and numbers 222 blogs covering all major league teams and various other aspects of baseball, as well as blogs and sites that are affiliated as Friends of the BBA. The official website of the BBA is located at www.baseballbloggersalliance.com. The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba. Members of the BBA may be heard at Blog Talk Radio every Tuesday night with their call-in show, BBA Baseball Talk, which may also be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Computer Problems

posted by Jon Williams
Apologies for those checking in the last couple of weeks. My computer crapped out on me, a Fan Error, and it took me a while to get up and running again. Unfortunately, I don't have one of those fantasy internet phones. I'm also between jobs again so no work computers to borrow. My brother the IT guy just finished installing the new fan less than an hour ago. I'll get to the e-mails and comments as soon as possible. Please feel free to e-mail me again if you're still in need of help.
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Friday, September 03, 2010

Mark Prior Signs with Texas Rangers

posted by Jon Williams
This according to the latest Newberg Report:
According to at least one local report, the Rangers have signed righthander Mark Prior to a minor league contract for 2011. The 29-year-old ex-ace hasn’t pitched in a major or minor league game since 2006. He’d last suited up for the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League.

The Rangers have announced that Prior will report to Oklahoma City, where he could pitch in relief right away. The RedHawks lead their division by two games with four to play.
I went to the official Orange County Flyers website to see how he had done in the GBL. Apparently he was appropriately overwhelming to the indie-league batters. He was working under former major league pitcher, Paul Abbott.
Prior worked with Abbott, an 11-year MLB veteran in his first year as Flyers manager, during his time with Orange County on developing the proper tools to come out of the bullpen. Last week, Prior pitched on back-to-back days for the first time in his professional career. On Tuesday, he threw a scoreless 8th inning for Orange County with two strikeouts against Na Koa Ikaika Maui, the team the Flyers will face in the first round of the playoffs starting next week. Prior signed with Orange County on August 3, throwing a 1-2-3 inning of relief in his Flyers debut against the Victoria Seals. He struck out five consecutive batters in his next outing. In his 11 innings of work, Prior allowed one unearned run on five hits with five walks and 22 strikeouts with opponents batting .143 against him.

“It’s a great day for Mark Prior, getting back into affiliated baseball,” said Abbott. “He came here to face competitive baseball and see if his arm would hold up, and he passed that initial test. Now he’s ready for the next step. He was a true professional while he was here. He was a Flyer, he was one of the guys, and he’s going to be missed.”
If he can stay healthy it looks like Mark prior may actually make a comeback. Good for him. This is someone fantasy owners should definitely keep an eye on.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Difference Makers

posted by 3FingersBrown
I've been away from the keyboard lately but I haven't lost interest in my fantasy teams. In fact in my 12 team H2H keeper, my squad (Donkey Punch!) has come on strong in recent weeks and has clawed its way back into contention with only four days left in the regular season. In what's the tightest finish that I've seen in this league, 3 1/2 games separate the top five teams (top six make the playoffs) and a half game currently separating the top three! With my transactions nearly maxed out and numerous players (Nick Swisher, Angel Pagan and Jim Thome) suffering from day-to-day injuries, I have to chose my moves very wisely. The regular season winner gets a prize and the top two get a bye for the first round of the playoffs but I can't leave myself without options for the playoffs, so I'll have to stand pat this week.

With that said, fantasy players know that campaigns are not won in the early rounds of a draft. In fact, sometimes the season is won from the waiver wires, as the season winds down to its end. So who are some of the position players who could be difference makers as we head down the stretch?

Neil Walker, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker has been one of the hottest hitters in the game lately. After five inauspicious seasons in the minors, it seems like the former first round pick seems to finally putting it all together at the age of 24. In the last two weeks, Walker has been absolutely raking, going 20/54 with 4 HR/9R/15RBI/.370 BA/.384 OBP. With a BABIP of .366 in his 342 PA with the big club, it's not likely that those numbers will last, but fantasy owners may as well enjoy the ride while it lasts. Owned in only 28% of Yahoo leagues, there's no reason why Walker shouldn't be helping more teams make their playoff push.

Freddy Sanchez, 2B, San Francisco Giants


You know what you're going to get out of a healthy Freddy Sanchez - batting average. While the veteran second baseman hasn't disappointed lately in the 17% of Yahoo leagues where he's rostered, he's also scored a lot of runs for the Giants, in their quest to overcome the faltering Padres out West. Sanchez has been slapping balls all over the place in the last two weeks, banging out a 11 R/1 HR/6 RBI/.481 BA/.491 OBP line. Of course he doesn't hit for much pop and is made of glass, but steady Freddy can be the difference between you winning or losing in batting average this week.

Roger Bernadina, OF, Washington Nationals

With the Nationals losing Josh Willingham for the season and Nyjer Morgan facing a suspension for hulking out last night, Roger Bernadina's sure to see every day reps in the D.C. outfield. The 26 year old has enjoyed surprising success in his first significant Major League playing time, showing solid power to go along with his base-stealing prowess. He was sitting against lefties, but I think he'll see steadier time from here on out. I'll refer back to a piece I wrote in June about Bernadina and add that he's definitely rosterable in 12-team mixed leagues now, in spite of the 96% of Yahoo leagues where he's not rostered. Over the last two weeks he's been the 27th most valuable player in my 6x6 format with 11 R/3 HR/ 9 RBI/ 4 SB/.268 BA/.311 OBP. He won't hit for great average but he should continue to deliver plenty of slam and legs at a time when cheap power/speed combinations are hard to come by.

Daric Barton, 1B, Oakland Athletics

Daric Barton has always been know for his patience at the plate. Now it seems like the Oakland Athletics first baseman has suddenly decided to get the bat off of his shoulders. Coming into action today, Barton has swung a hot stick, bashing out a line of 11 R/3 HR/7 RBI/2 SB/.425 BA/.586 OBP in the last two weeks. Of course his hot hitting could cool off at any time, but Barton gets on base and if that's what you need, he could be an asset if you're thin at corner infield. As hot as he's been, Barton is only owned in 9% of Yahoo leagues so there's a good chance he's around to lend a hand.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Martin Prado: Best Hitter in the National League?

posted by Jon Williams
I found something odd inside last week's Baseball America. On page 15 they printed the results of their survey of major league managers of the best tools in baseball. Most of it was fairly predictable. The best National League baserunners were Michael Bourn, Nyjer Morgan and Andrew McCutchen. The most exciting players in the American League were Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton and Ichiro Suzuki. And the best hitters in the National League were Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Martin Prado. Say what, now? Martin Prado?

It's true that Martin Prado has been extremely good over the last couple of years. First as a utility player and finally as the full-time second baseman. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs.com had good things to say about him during his Trade Value series of articles in which Prado ranked at number 47.
The ultimate performance over tools guy in the big leagues right now, Prado’s success is a testament to how pedigree doesn’t mean everything. This is a guy who hit 15 home runs in 2,119 minor league plate appearances, and was simply not considered much of a prospect when he got to the big leagues. However, for the last three years, he’s been one of the best second baseman in baseball, adding some power to his already good contact rates and turning himself into a legitimate All-Star this season. He’s headed for his prime years as an already good player, and the Braves have him under control for three more seasons. He might be the most unexpected guy on this list, but he’s earned his spot here.
By wOBA, Prado comes in an impressive seventh among second basemen this season with an extremely solid .368 score. He ranks 22nd in wOBA in the National League, which is impressive for a player that was not expected to become an offensive force.

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At the time of this posting, Prado held a slash of .317/.360/.488 with 15 homeruns, 89 runs scored, and 58 RBI in 498 at-bats. Although his walk rate is unimpressive at just 6.4 percent, he has shown incredible patience at the plate. He swings at far fewer pitchers than most major league hitters both in and out of the strike zone. He also makes far greater contact. He is definitely a skilled hitter. The key to his transformation seems to be his steadily increasing power. The last three seasons have seen his ISO go from .140 to .158 to .171 this season.

Although most leagues do not bother with defense, I thought it would be interesting to see how he has been with the glove. The answer is pretty good overall. He's been excellent at third base just passing at second base but showing some improvement. I think this helps us call him a pretty good third baseman and a very good second baseman.

Unfortunately, the major league managers seem to have elevated him a bit past his true skills as a hitter. He is definitely a player worth watching for fantasy purposes. At 27-years old with experience we may see him take another step up and into the true tier of best hitters in the National League. But for now I would still place players like Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Matt Holliday, Ryan Zimmerman and Hanley Ramirez in a class above him.

How has Martin Prado helped in your quests for gold. Are you ready to label him one of the best hitters in the National League? Let's hear about it in the comments section.

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