Tagged: Miguel Cabrera

How the Adrian Gonzalez Trade Shakes Up the Rankings

By Eriq Gardner //

Quick brain tease — Now that Adrian Gonzalez has been traded to the Boston Red Sox, how does his prospective value in fantasy leagues compare to Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, and Mark Teixeira?
A week ago, Gonzalez would clearly be somewhat behind those players in the rankings. Now? It’s not so clear. And the ambiguousness could make a major impact on fantasy baseball, influencing not only Gonzalez’s stock, but also valuations on Troy Tulowitzki, Robinson Cano, and pretty much all superstars heading into the 2011 season.
But first, let’s take a quick look at Gonzo himself.
For the past several seasons, Gonzalez has been one of the most consistent players in baseball — a 30-plus HR slugger with the ability to hit for average and get on base. If he’s never ranked in the top 5 among 1B, it’s largely because of environmental context, playing in the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the majors with teammates who struggle to get on base and knock him in. Despite the handicaps, Gonzalez has averaged around 100 RBI and 100 runs scored for the past four seasons.
During that time, Gonzalez has 90 homers in road games — more than anybody else in the game. Only Albert Pujols during that time had a better road OPS. 
Gonzalez is not just moving away from a pitcher-friendly ballpark; he’s moving to a home stadium that will be kind to his talents. According to Baseball-Reference, he’ll be moving away from a ballpark in Petco that depresses production by left-handers by 10% and moving to a ballpark in Fenway Park that boosts production by left-handers by 6%. The parks factor difference between the two stadiums was enough to cut his HR total by roughly six homers per season. Adjusting his batting average to the new environment also yields shockingly great results — his .298 average in San Diego would have translated to a .323 average in Boston.
Gonzalez will also be playing in a superior lineup in Boston. Last season, he led the NL with the highest batting average (.407) with runners in scoring position. One has got to figure that the move to Boston will boost his RBI totals. Dan Syzmborski, who runs ZiPS projections at Baseball Think Factory, recently credited Gonzalez with an extra 14 RBI in his forecast for the upcoming season, which may be a conservative assessment.
In sum, it’s easy to imagine, assuming good health, that Gonzalez could be good for 35-plus HR, 115 RBI (or more), and a .300-plus AVG. That certainly puts him in the same ballpark of value as Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto.
Many people still prefer those latter two, but for what legitimate reasons? Gonzalez’s off-season shoulder surgery? The fact that he hasn’t yet shown he can handle Boston fans and media? Perhaps, but almost everyone around baseball thinks that Gonzalez is a hard worker who won’t fold under pressure, and he recently passed a physical that was a prerequisite to the transaction.
Regardless of where exactly he ranks, it’s clear there’s more depth at the top-end of the 1B pool, and basic economics state that more supply translates to falling prices.
Let’s take an example.

Pretend we’re in the middle of the first round and an owner has the choice between Votto and Tulowitzki. A week ago, the consensus would be for Votto. Now? Does a drafter choose Votto when his competition can take the roughly equal Gonzo a few picks later? Does choosing Votto make sense when other 1B like Teixeira and Ryan Howard may now be available in the 2nd round, as a result of being pushed down in the rankings? Tulo’s edge over other shortstops should be given more credit given the increased strength and depth at first base.

In other words, we’ve just seen a major shakeup in talent scarcity. And it’s not just at the 1B position either. 
The fact that Gonzalez will be manning 1B means that Kevin Youkilis will be playing 3B — which is a big boost to a position that’s been suffering in recent years. Now, all those considering Alex Rodriguez at the end of the 1st round will have to consider the possibility of getting Youkilis a couple of rounds later. We’ll speculate that someone like Robinson Cano may begin to look more appealing at the end of the 1st round with drafters seeing more options at 1B and 3B and looking to fill out the rest of their lineup first.
In short, the move by Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego to Boston is a big rock thrown into an unsettled pond. It’s going to take several months to really measure the impact of this move on fantasy baseball valuations heading into 2011.

MLB Season in Review: Detroit Tigers Hitters

By Jonah Keri //

Biggest Surprise: Austin Jackson

One could easily make a case for Jackson as a regression candidate,
as his sky-high .399 batting average on balls in play is unsustainable
over the long haul, and suggests a possible pullback from his .295
average this year. But Jackson’s 103 runs scored and 26 steals to go
with the high average gave fantasy owners a big lift, and at just 23
years old, he could see gains in power and speed to help offset that
batting average regression, both next year and beyond.

Biggest Bust: Johnny Damon

We knew Damon’s numbers would pull back significantly from 2009
levels, going from possibly the friendliest park in baseball for his
slashing, left-handed swing to the vast expanses of Comerica Park, and
from the Yankees’ killer lineup to the Tigers’ collection of Miguel
Cabrera and a band of no-names. But the plunge was far more dramatic
than expected: 24 homers, 82 RBI and 107 runs scored in ’09, 8 homers,
50 RBI and 81 runs scored this year. Damon isn’t much of a basestealing
threat anymore either, swiping just 11 bags in 2010. Avoid him at next
year’s draft table.

2011 Keeper Alert: Ryan Raburn

First the negatives: Raburn’s .333 batting average on balls in play
might regress next year, making him a risk for a somewhat lower batting
average. He’s got a sizable platoon split on his track record and could
be vulnerable to tough right-handed pitching if given 600 plate
appearances. And he only qualifies at OF heading into next season. On
the other hand, Raburn should play meet the typical 5- or 10-game
in-season minimums needed to qualify at second base next year, and he’s
swatted 31 homers over about 700 plate appearances in the last two
seasons with the Tigers. Stash him as a cheap keeper at OF or UT, then
slide him to 2B when he qualifies there next year and you’ll have cheap
power at a position that doesn’t have a lot of it.

2011 Regression Alert: None

Miguel Cabrera was the only Tigers hitter to put up big
numbers this season, and he’s in his prime at age 27 and improving by
the year — meaning it’s tough to find a Tigers hitter due for a big
pullback. By the same token, few Tigers performed so poorly relative to
expectations that you’d expect a big positive regression either. You
could be generous and argue that Scott Sizemore is better than
the .224/.296/.336 line he mustered this season. But the man Detroit
originally ticketed for the starting second base job in 2010 sports a
track record of mediocre power and high strikeout rates in the minor
leagues; he may well be unable to hit enough to hold down an everyday
job, let alone help you in even a deeper mixed league. 

For more on Austin Jackson and the Detroit Tigers lineup, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy kits.