Results tagged ‘ MLB ’

Mike Stanton: Sophomore Slam or Slump?

Bu Tommy Rancel //

Stephen Strasburg debuted, Jason Heyward shatter windshields, and Buster Posey won the rookie of the year award. Meanwhile, Mike Stanton quietly mashed in South Florida.  Perhaps the fourth or fifth prospect in terms hype, Stanton’s powerful rookie campaign took a backseat to his more well-known peers. While the world was consumed with Stras-mas, the Marlins’ outfielder hit 22 home runs, drove in nearly 60 runs, and scored 45 of his own in 100 games. Oh, did I mention he didn’t turn 21 until AFTER the season?

Obviously the most impressive part of Stanton’s rookie season was his home run power. Only 12 men – including Stanton – have hit at least 22 home runs in their age-20 season. Names like Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Alex Rodriguez give Stanton pretty good company. Perhaps even more impression is the pace which he took the ball out of the yard.

Stanton needed just 100 games and 359 at-bats to launch his 22 home runs. Of the 12 man group from above, only former Atlanta Braves’ All-Star third baseman Bob Horner hit as many home runs in fewer games and at-bats.  The former top prospect’s ratio of a home run every 16 at-bats ranked fifth best in the National League last season.  Add in the 21 home runs hit before his call to the show, and Stanton showed off his home run trot a combined 43 times in 2010 in just 153 total games.

Of course, Stanton’s rookie season did not come without some bumps along the way. ). In his first 70 games, he hit just .235 and finished the season at with a .259 average despite a higher-than-normal batting average on balls in play (BABIP). In addition to the low average, his plate discipline – 123 strikeouts and 34 unintentional walks – is a work in progress. If you’re looking for some progress, he hit .312 with an OBP of .370 in the season’s final 30 games; however, that is a rather small sample size.

With a solid two-thirds of a season under his belt, expectations of 30-plus home run power over a full season now follow Stanton.  But home runs aren’t Stanton’s only source of value. In addition to the balls that went over the wall, he laced 21 doubles in ball parks across the country.  Also remember, Stanton racked up all these extra-base hits while playing his home games in a neutral park environment.

On top of the gaudy power potential, Stanton’s stock is on the rise because of his placement in the lineup. The Marlins decided to ease their younger in the lineup by placing him in the lower half of the order. Of his 359 at-bats last year, 87% of them came from the sixth slot or lower. In 2011, Stanton is slated to bat clean-up behind a talented trio of Omar Infante, Chris Coghlan, and MVP-candidate Hanley Ramirez.

Because he will not hit for a high average or swipe many steals keeps Stanton from the top-tier of fantasy outfielders. Add in the negative connotation of the strikeouts and his draft position varies from OF2 and OF3. Once again, tucked behind higher-profiled stars, this could leave Stanton as a mid-round steal.

With 30-plus home run power (35 projected by Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tool), the likelihood of an equal amount of doubles, and an increase in RBI opportunities, Stanton could be a fantastic power and RBI source in 2011. Set your target around the eighth round in a standard 12-team mixed-league, but if there is a sudden run on outfielders don’t be afraid to pull the trigger a round earlier.

Update: Stanton was diagnosed with right-quad injury after coming up lame in Sunday’s contest. He is expected to miss two weeks, but continue to monitor his progress throughout the spring.

James Shields: Sink or Swim in 2011?

By Tommy Rancel //

On the surface, James Shields had a poor season in 2010. The Rays’ opening day starter got off to a hot start with a 5-2 record, 2.99 ERA, and 71 strikeouts in his first 10 starts.  Unfortunately, he would go 8-13 the rest of the way with an ERA of 6.31 in his final 24 appearances. Many in the Tampa Bay area soured on Shields; however, the organization, manager Joe Maddon, and progressive analysts think Shields’ traditional stats will rebound in 2011.

Shields earned a dubious triple crown in 2010 by leading the league in hits, earned runs, and home runs allowed.  He watched 34 bombs leave the yard on the strength of a home run-to-flyball rate of 13.8%. This number is two percent higher than his career average and the highest among major league starters with at least 200 innings pitched. Shields has always given up his fair share of longballs, but is unlikely to get shelled like this going forward.

In addition to the home run issues, Shields was labeled as hittable with 246 hits allowed. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .341 was nearly 40 points above the league average, more than 20 points higher than the next closest starter with at least 200 innings, and around 70 points higher than any of the other Rays’ starters. In fact, the next highest BABIP in the Rays’ rotation came from Wade Davis and Matt Garza at .272 apiece. This means Shields was extremely unlucky or was somewhat unlucky with other factors involved since he pitched with the same defense and in the same environment.

shields_projected.jpg

While luck was definitely involved, Shields also didn’t do himself any favors with pitch selection and location. He went to his fastball and cut-fastball far too often and in some cases left them in the nitro zone. Since it is the same fastball he has had success with in the past, a change in selection could go a long way; especially considering his change-up remains one of the premier pitches in the league.

The struggles with home runs and hits allowed have been documented. Meanwhile, Shields did quite well last season in other areas. He posted a career high in strikeouts (187 in 203.1 innings) and gave up just 2.3 walks per nine innings. According to his 3.72 xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching) – a metric that measures walks, strikeouts, and uses the leave average home run rate to further strip luck out of the equation- Shields actually had a very good season.

Shields is similar to Ricky Nolasco in a few ways. Both starters posted good strikeout rates, solid walk totals, but were bitten by the long ball. Not surprisingly, both had better showings in defensive independent metrics than their ERA. This may scare away prospective owners on draft day, leaving them as quality choices on the scrap heap.

In the case of Shields, regression to the mean will help, but he’ll also have to do a better job of mixing up his pitches and spotting the ball around the zone. He did this from 2007-2009 when he averaged 12 wins, a 3.85 ERA, and over 200 innings per season. His durability alone (four straight seasons of at least 31 starts and 200 innings) makes him a back-end of the rotation target, but the chance for regression could make him a real steal in the later rounds of a mixed-league draft.

Pablo Sandoval In 2011: Sink Or Swim?

By Tommy Rancel //

Despite having just over two seasons under his rather large belt, Pablo Sandoval has seen the ups and downs of the major leagues. The Kung-Fu Panda made his debut for San Francisco in 2008, hitting .345/.357/.490 in an abbreviated 41-game rookie season. In his first full season at the big league level, he hit .330/.387/.559 with 25 home runs, 44 doubles, and somehow legged out five triples. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a top-10 finish in the 2009 National League MVP vote – placing seventh. Sandoval entered the 2010 season as a 23-year-old with a career batting average of .333 in over 700 at-bats. Then the season started…

Not only was Sandoval unable to replicate his 2009 success, but he did not even come close. In 152 games, he posted a slash line of .268/.323/.409. His home run total was pretty much cut in half (13), and he drove in just 63 runners compared to the 90 from the previous year. By season’s end, he was replaced by Juan Uribe in the lineup and totaled just 19 plate appearances in the playoffs as the Giants’ marched to a World Series title  Such a steep drop-off for a player with Sandoval’s experience immediately brings up the word fluke. However, when looking past his fantasy stats, there are not many signs of fluke.

In terms of plate discipline, he was still a free swinger last season, but did not rack up a ton of strikeouts. He walk rate declined a bit, however, nothing substantial. Overall, he displayed the same patience as he did in 2009. In terms of batted ball data, he hit about the same number of line drives as well as ground and flyballs.

The areas where he experienced steep regression were batting average on balls in play and home run-to-flyball ratio. He was unlikely to be a career .330 hitter anyway so some correction was expected. In terms of the HR/FB issue, he might have regressed a bit too much leaving the potential for positive regression in the future.

With similar peripherals yet differerent results over the past two seasons, what can we expect in 2011? Another near-MVP caliber season or another mostly disappointing and average campaign?

sandoval_projected.jpg

According to Bloomberg Sports’ projections, Sandoval should fall right in between. Our projections peg the Panda with a .293 average and an OPS of .825. In terms of power, the system projects him to once again top the 20 home run plateau with a steady dose of doubles mixed in.

After the season, Sandoval was told to lose weight by Giants’ management or face a demotion to the minors. We don’t know if he is the best shape of his life, but reports say he is in much better condition than he was a few months ago. In addition to working with trainers, he has also picked the mind of Giants’ great Barry Bonds about improving his swing and plate approach.

With the fresh stench of his 2010 lingering on some draft boards, Sandoval may linger around a bit longer than his true value. That said, he becomes a prime target in the mid-rounds as a bounce back sleeper with multi-position flexibility.

 

Dan Hudson Remains A Sleeper In Arizona

By Tommy Rancel //

The Arizona Diamondbacks have completely revamped their rotation in the last calendar year. With Dan Haren, Brandon Webb, and Edwin Jackson now pitching for new teams, the D-Backs have added Joe Saunders, Ian Kennedy, Dan Hudson, and recently Armando Galarraga. The club even brought back reliever Aaron Heilman to compete for a rotation spot. In all fairness, the list reads as a casting call for your average fourth or fifth starter; however Dan Hudson had a real chance to stand out in the snakes’ rotation.

When Arizona acquired Hudson for Jackson last year, we quickly boarded the Hudson-hype train, urging owners to pick him up as a boost for playoff rotations. He did not disappoint – going 7-1 with a minuscule 1.69 ERA in 11 starts for the Diamondbacks. Overall, he went 8-2 with 2.45 ERA in 95 innings last year between Chicago and Arizona. After the trade to the National League, Hudson was literally spot-on. He struck out 70 batters in 79 innings while allowing just 16 walks. He induced a swing and a miss more than 12% of the time and allowed less than one baserunner per inning.

For all the good Hudson produced, there are some signs that he may regress from the absolute beast mode he displayed at the end of 2010. Though his strikeout rate may continue to be slightly above the league average, his walk rate is likely to regress from elite status to simply very good.

As a flyball pitcher, we were concerned about home runs being an issue at Chase Field; however, Hudson did a good job of limiting the big fly in his brief introduction to the stadium. Meanwhile, his home run-to-flyball ratio was below the league average which means he’ll likely allow more home runs in a larger sample size. In addition to the home runs, Hudson’s batting average on balls in play (.216) was well below the league average of around .300 and is also likely to see some regression.

Despite his strong showing at the end of the season, nobody expects Hudson to be a sub-2.00 ERA pitcher over the course of 30-plus starts. Going forward his ERA will probably be close to 3.50 than it will be 2.00. On the other hand, over the course of full-season that is still very valuable.

Though he may allow more hits and home runs, Hudson’s peripheral stats are strong enough to hold up as a valuable SP3 or possibly an SP2 in some deeper leagues. In even better news, Hudson goes into the 2011 season without much hype or fanfare meaning you could possibly get that value for the cost of an SP4 or SP5 in most standard mixed leagues.

Worth The Hype? A Look At Jason Heyward

By Tommy Rancel //

A mid-season power outage (which coincided with a thumb sprain) left Jason Heyward short of the power expectations some had for the windshield-shattering prospect. Before his original thumb injury (which occurred in lay May), Heyward smashed nine home runs in his first 158 plate appearances with a .580 slugging percentage. Post-injury, he hit nine home runs in 485 plate appearances and slugged just .414. Even with a few nagging injuries, the man-child posted a slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) of .277/.393/.456 with 52 extra-base hits over his first 623 major league plate appearances.

Despite having a batting average below .280, Heyward displayed excellent on-base skills with an OBP of near .400. His lack of age and experience did not prevent him from showing a a mature batting eye, walking nearly 15% of the time. While his batting average came it at .277, Heyward was very successful when putting the ball in play.

His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .335 was well above the league average which falls around .300. Normally, when a player hits for such a high BABIP it is a cause for concern in regards to regression; however, in the case of the athletic and hard-hitting Heyward regression is not automatic.

Heyward maintained a higher-than-usual BABIP with a relatively normal line drive rate. Sometimes when a player hits an unsustainable amount of line drives, a quick and steep regression is likely to follow. In this case, the J-Hey Kid had a high BABIP with a large amount of groundballs. For a player without speed (remember back to our article on Joey Votto) this could be a problem. Meanwhile, Heyward has good speed even though large amounts of steals have never been a part of his game. That said, Heyward could still see some batting average fluctuation.
 
Some owners may have concerns about Heyward’s durability. In addition to the thumb sprain that landed him on the disabled list, he also battled some knee and groin issues The good news is in the 320 plate appearances after his stint on the disabled list. he hit .302 with seven home runs.. Even if he becomes a player who takes an annual 15-day vacation because of nagging injuries, the level of production when healthy makes up for it.

Though he is no longer the unknown phenom, Heyward is one of the most exciting young players in baseball. And though he did not take many steal attempts, the potential for a 25HR/15SB season is still there. Even with the lingering thumb issue, target him in the mid-rounds of your draft as a solid OF2 or OF3 option depending on the size of your league.

 

David Aardsma, Brandon League and the Bullpen Handcuff

By Eno Sarris //

Fantasy football players are used to the concept of the handcuff. Because the running back position is highly volatile, fantasy players in that sport will draft both a team’s starting running back, as well as his backup. The most volatile position in fantasy baseball is the closer. Fantasy baseball players should consider the handcuff when it comes to their bullpen options.

Up in Seattle, David Aardsma has found success the past two years. Over that span, he’s struck out more than a batter per inning and posted a 2.90 ERA, while racking up 69 saves. Even with his sub-optimal walk rate (over four batters per nine innings both years) and flyball tendencies (35.1% GB career – spacious Safeco Field and Seattle’s great outfield defense have helped him immensely), he’s been dependable, for the most part.

Except that he’s also spent some time in the trainer’s room. He didn’t officially hit the DL last season, but he did miss two weeks with an oblique strain. Then, this off-season, he had hip surgery. The most recent report has him available in mid-April, but that’s an early prognosis. The surgery was a little more extensive than the M’s had hoped, and hip surgeries can be difficult. Aardsma is a question mark going into the season.

Cue the handcuff. Brandon League doesn’t quite have the strikeout rate you’d like from your closer (6.72 K/9 career), but he’s one of the most extremely groundball pitchers in the game (62.2% GB career), meaning he’ll limit extra-base hits. He also shows pretty good control (3.20 BB/9 career). League has improved his strikeout rate lately (9.16 K/9 in 2009). He also filled in for Aardsma last year, accruing six saves. His splitter is a plus-pitch and his fastball averages more than 95 MPH. He’s a strong handcuff.

The best way to take advantage of this plan is to identify places where the backup is a solid pitcher and the bullpen won’t disintegrate into an open competition once the closer goes down. Other handcuff options around the league include Florida – pick Leo Nunez and Clay Hensley late – or Atlanta – Craig Kimbrel is the favorite, but Jonny Venters lurks. In a way, though, the Seattle pen is ideal. You can stash Aardsma on your DL if you’ve got a spot there, play League early on, and take your time making a decision as more information flows in.  

As many as one-third of baseball’s closers lose their job to injury or poor performance every year. Waiting until late in the game and picking an iffy closer and his handcuff will net you plenty of saves, at a reduced cost. Steal the strategy from fantasy football, and reap the benefits. 

What’s The Value of HRs When Fewer Are Hitting Them?

By Eriq Gardner //

When most competitors figure out who to draft in fantasy baseball leagues this year, they typically attempt to judge a player’s prospective stats. Will player X hit 35 HR this year or merely 25? How will player Y adapt to his new playing environment now that he is moving from a ballpark that favors pitchers to one that favors hitters?
But those questions aren’t the only ones that determine a player’s prospective value. A player can produce a carbon copy of last season and still hold remarkably different value from one year to the next. That’s because the value of accumulated stats is ever-shifting.
Let’s give an example by considering the shifting fantasy value of “Mr. Consistency” Adam Dunn. One will hardly find a better player in baseball like Dunn who reproduces his stat line from one year to the next. Check out his HR totals over the last six seasons: 40, 40, 40, 40, 38, 38.
In 2010, Dunn hit 38 HR, tabbed 103 RBI, scored 85 runs, didn’t steal any bases, and had a .260 average.
It was a nearly identical season compared to his 2009, when he hit 38 HR, tabbed 105 RBI, scored 81 runs, didn’t steal any bases, and had a .267 average. 
And yet, according to Baseball Monster, which tabulates the comparative fantasy value of players in baseball, Dunn went from being the 115th most valuable player in 2009 to the 57th most valuable player in 2010 in a standard 12-team 5×5 league. Quite a difference!
To understand why Dunn made a huge leap in fantasy value, without really doing much different, it takes an appreciation of larger macro-trends around baseball.
Last season, there was 4,613 HR hit throughout MLB. That represented a 8.5% drop in HR production from the 2009 season when players hit 5,042 HR. In fact, HR activity was at its lowest point since 1993. Maybe it’s a tougher performance-enhancing drug testing regime, or maybe MLB switched the type of balls they use, or maybe there’s a whole series of other, more subtle reasons. Whatever the reason, homers became a much rarer commodity.
This influences fantasy baseball.
For example, in 2008, the blog Rotoauthority.com did a study of the stats needed to be ahead in each category. According to Tim Dierkes, he concluded that 313 HR were needed to finish 2nd or 3rd in the HR category. If Dierkes did another study based on last year’s results, we’d bet good money that the threshold would be much lower. In one league we competed in last year, in a similar format to the one Dierkes studied, the team that finished first in HR slugged just 258 of them; the team that finished second in slugged only 218.
A season where it takes 300 HR to win is a lot different than a season where it takes 200 HR to win. In the former, Adam Dunn’s 40 HR bring his owner 13% to the needed total. In the latter, Adam Dunn’s 40 HR bring his owner 20% to the needed total.
If you can bank 40 HR from a slugger, that certainly takes on added value, especially considering that each HR also produces at least one RBI, a run, and a hit. 
But keep in mind that the threshold for players being merely average in the power category has also changed. Five seasons ago, players with at least 500 plate appearances averaged 20 HR. Sixty-eight percent of them fell somewhere between 8 and 32 HR. Last season, players with at least 500 plate appearances averaged 18 HR. Sixty-eight percent of them fell between between 8 and 29 HR. The difference between the haves and have-nots has shrunk. Hitting 22 HR now is akin to hitting 25 HR a few years ago.
Let’s assume these macro-trends in baseball continue, and consider the significance. 
For players who far out-slug the competition, these individuals have great value in fantasy leagues. But be careful about penalizing players whose production appears to have slipped a bit. Relatively speaking, they might be just as good as ever.

King of the Fantasy Shorstops: Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez?

by Eno Sarris //

In a recent fantasy baseball industry draft put on by FOXSports.com, your faithful Bloomberg Sports correspondent had the third pick. Going into it, I figured I would be fine with either of the great shortstops at the top of the draft – a five-category offensive player at the most difficult position is a nice way to start your team. True to my preparation, Troy Tulowitzki went second and I quickly clicked Hanley Ramirez with a smile. What would I have done if I had been faced with the second pick, though?

Last year, the contributions in the fantasy categories may have barely favored the Floridian. Tulo put up a .315 average with 27 home runs, 11 stolen bases, 89 runs and 95 RBI. Hanley hit .300 with 21 home runs, 32 stolen bases, 92 runs and 76 RBI. While the batting average statistic looks like a notch in Tulowitzki’s belt, Ramirez actually accrued 15 more hits than the Rockies shortstop. At issue was the fact that Tulowitzki was hurt for a month and only came to the plate 529 times, vs. Ramirez’s 619. Give Ramirez a tiny nudge for crossing the 600 PA threshold for the fifth time in as many years, and he gets the overall nod, too.

tuloramirez.jpgObviously, it’s close. Some of the difference will come from how you value stolen bases. Even coming off his peak (51 stolen bases in 2006-2007), Ramirez has averaged more than 30 per season for three seasons. While it’s tempting to pencil Tulowitzki in for 15 stolen bases or more next season, it’s worth noticing that his success rate is not impressive (62.6%). That means that he’s below the break-even point (you want to be successful at least two-thirds of the time, value-wise) and may get the green light less often. Two hand injuries in the last three years might also discourage his coaches from sending him.

So we turn to next year and the projections. Bill James has Tulowitzki down for a .296 batting average, 27 home runs, 11 stolen bases, 96 runs and 93 RBI in a virtual carbon-copy of his 2010 effort (though in 597 plate appearances). He has Ramirez bouncing back from a three-year decline in isolated slugging percentage, as he thinks the Florida shortstop will put up a .312 batting average, 25 home runs, 33 stolen bases, 108 runs, and 80 RBI (in 658 plate appearances). If these projections hold, Ramirez is an easy pick.

The last caveat is that the 26-year-old Tulowitzki is obviously on his way up, while Hanley Ramirez has shown a decline in some key statistics. After putting up .230 and .239 ISOs in 2007 and 2008, he has dropped down to .201 and .175 respectively the last two years. Some of it may be from some normal fluctuation in his flyball percentage – though he hit a career-low 32.7% of his contact in the air last year, that number was 41.5% the year before and 36.7% in 2008. It looks like his speed is a little more dependable than his power because of this oscillation. It’s also a little premature to assume the 27-year-old Ramirez is in a decline phase.

These two excellent shortstops will be leaving your draft boards early in the first round, and for good reason. A comparison seems to suggest that it’s a matter of taste: If you’d rather take a nudge in power and hope your shortstop continues to make an impact in the speed categories, Tulowitzki is your man. If you’d rather make sure to get close to 30 steals, and risk that the power is only OK rather than elite, then Ramirez is your man. You’ll probably be happy either way.

Who Will Emerge from the Crowded Jays’ Pen?

by Eno Sarris // 

What a week it has been for the Toronto Blue Jays. First, they traded Vernon Wells to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera, shedding Wells’ considerable salary. Then the flipped Napoli on to the Rangers for reliever Frank Francisco. Paired with the other pickups of the off-season, Francisco makes for a newly crowded bullpen. As always, for fantasy purposes the million-dollar question is “Who will close?”

The first reliever with closing experience acquired by the Jays this off-season was Octavio Dotel, who came with 105 career saves and a double-digit career strikeout rate (10.95 K/9). Given the state of the Jays’ pen at that time, our Tommy Rancel was right to name him the favorite for saves this season. His 4.09 walks per nine innings and some major struggles vs. left-handed hitters remained serious concerns, though.

Perhaps it was Dotel’s wonky control that led the Jays to go out and get Jon Rauch a couple weeks later. While he doesn’t own the same strikeout punch as Dotel (7.34 career K/9, and a slower fastball that hovers around 91 mph), Rauch had also closed before (47 career saves) and shown much better control (2.80 career BB/9). He proved himself as a capable closer in Washington and Minnesota before, so maybe he’d make for a good backup plan.

Now, enter Francisco to the discussion. He’s a little more Dotel than Rauch – he has shown a 10.01 K/9 and 4.03 BB/9 over his career – but like both he has experience in the closer role. Francisco is six years younger than Dotel, who has also lost at least three miles per hour off of his peak fastball speed, and he’s got more punch than Rauch. On the other hand, the former Ranger has only averaged 53 1/3 innings in his “healthy” seasons and lost all of 2005 to surgery. Will there be an open competition for the role?  

JaysPen.jpgThere’s one big asterisk that tilts the scale quickly towards Francisco. You want your closer to be able to get batters out no matter which side of the plate they call home. Look at the chart above, and you’ll see that both Rauch and Dotel see their effectiveness dive against lefties, while Francisco’s statistics are more stable.

Of course, Francisco’s health is an open question and the team will likely need to call upon more than one of these options during the course of the year. Going into the season, however, Francisco is the favorite for saves. Plan your drafts accordingly.

A Tale of Two Base Stealers

By R.J. Anderson //
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Davis
and Coco Crisp entered the 2010 season as teammates on the
Oakland Athletics. The pair has since split up — with Oakland trading
Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays during the off-season — but still remain
two of the biggest basestealing targets for fantasy players.

Many aspects of a player’s game are analyzed when a player changes
teams. Where he fits in the lineup, how his offensive style will fit in
the park, and whether the new division includes an increased level of
competition. Rarely is team philosophy taken account. In Davis’s case,
how the Jays allow him to play on the basepaths is critical to how you value him in your draft. In 2010, Davis stole 50 bases — more
than Carl Crawford, Ichiro, and every American League player except
Juan Pierre. Meanwhile, the entire Jays team stole just 58 bases last season. The Jays only
had one player with double-digit steals (Fred Lewis)…and Davis just took his job.

Since the Jays’ offense was built around home runs, it’s hard
to say whether the team will pull the reins in on Davis’ running game or if the low stolen bases total was simply a result of the team’s makeup last year.
Davis is a very efficient thief (79% for his career), so there’s no objective reason to hold him back.

Meanwhile, the oft-injured Crisp remains an Athletic. The serial
stealer made the most of his 127 stolen base opportunities (defined as
a situation where the runner is on first or second with the next base
open) and attempted 35 steals. For a reference point, each of the 16
players with more steals each had at least 40 more opportunities.
Expect that rate to drop, as Crisp averaged about 29 steal attempts per
season when he was with Boston — and those three seasons came before
he hit the wrong side of 30. There could also be concerns about playing
time, as the Athletics have added to their outfield depth with the acquisitions of David DeJesus and Josh Willingham (not to mention presumptive DH Hideki Matsui).

Even with the questions about team philosophy, take Davis if you have to choose between the pair. He’s not much of an offensive player by real-life standards, but he should still give even your standard mixed league team a strong stolen base boost.

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