Tagged: Vladiomir Guerrero

What We Can Learn From Vladimir Guerrero This Off-Season

By Eriq Gardner //

Over the past few years, thanks to tight purse strings and perhaps the waning influences of PEDs, there’s been a youth movement in baseball. More than ever, teams are reluctant to lock up older superstars to big contracts.
Nevertheless, we all tend to get a little too down on older players coming off of bad years.
Take Vladimir Guerrero, for instance.
One year ago today, Guerrero was coming off injuries and a lousy season. In 2009, he appeared in only 100 games and hit just 15 HRs and 50 RBIs. The Los Angeles Angels didn’t express much interest in re-signing the one time American League MVP. Neither did fantasy owners.
We all know how that turned out. Signed to a one-year deal by the Texas Rangers, Guerrero had a tremendous comeback season. He hit 29 HRs and 115 RBIs with a .300 batting average.
Many attribute his newfound success to the favorable hitting environment in Texas. But Guerrero wasn’t the only veteran coming off a disappointing year who shined in 2010. Other 30-year-olds who provided a nice dividend included Adrian Beltre, Coco Crisp, and Brett Myers.
If fantasy owners tend to underestimate older players, I can think of three good reasons why.
First, while it’s true that player performance tends to gradually deteriorate for thirty-somethings, the slope from superstardom to retirement is rarely a smooth downward descent. One bad season doesn’t have to follow the next. Yes, the macro-trends may support lesser performance in a player’s 30s, but in the micro-sense, predicting what’s going to happen one season to the next is not as pat. 
Second, a season’s worth of baseball is an arbitrary sample set. And a small one, too. Even 162 games of baseball can’t tell us whether a ballplayer is responding to the influence of Father Time or is just having a bad year. 
Third, bad seasons by older superstars tend to soak up a lot of bad press. This is especially true of those whose contracts are up and who are searching for a new job. Athletes make tens of millions of dollars, and we’re all very sensitive to washed-up ones who don’t earn their paycheck.
Fortunately, all this provides a nice buying opportunity. As a “value investor,” I’m watching older players especially closely this off-season. 
I’m definitely curious where Lance Berkman ends up this off-season. He’s nowhere near the hottest commodity in the free agent market, but he’s only a couple seasons removed from 29 HR. 18 SB, and being selected in the second round of most fantasy drafts. This season, he only hit 14 HRs, but was plagued with some bad luck. If there’s any player who screams, “the next Vladimir Guerrero,” it might be Berkman.
Similarly, Magglio Ordonez, Derek Jeter, Derrek Lee, Manny Ramirez, and Javier Vazquez are all potential values heading into 2011. These players could fall victim to overreaction to their poor seasons and could be attained cheaply heading into the next season. No, I wouldn’t sign any of these players to a long-term contract, if I was sitting in a major league front office, but fortunately, most fantasy owners only have to make single-year analysis. Given that, I like the odds.
For more on Lance Berkman and other older free agents, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office.

MLB Season In Review: Texas Rangers Hitters

By Tommy Rancel //

Biggest Surprise: Mitch Moreland

When the season started, the Rangers had hoped that one of their young first basemen would take hold of the position and become a fixture in the lineup. They got their wish, just not the name. After Chris Davis’ struggles, Jorge Cantu’s inability to adjust to the AL, and Justin Smoak’s trade to Seattle, Moreland was guy for Texas at first base. In 47 games, he hit .255/.364/.469 with nine home runs. He also showed the ability to take a free pass with an above-average 14.5% walk rate. He did strike out a lot, and his home run-to-fly ball rate is likely unsustainably high. But with no one else stepping up at the position, he is likely to get his fair share of playing time in 2011.

Biggest Bust: Ian Kinsler

A preseason favorite of Bloomberg Sports, Kinsler missed 59 games and spent 69 total days on the DL with an ankle sprain and then a groin injury. When he was healthy, Kinsler hit .286 with a career-high on-base percentage of .382. That said, he hit a career-low nine home runs and his slugging percentage was just over .400. Whether the injuries took a toll on his power, we don’t know, but with such high expectations headed into the season, Kinsler did not live up to the hype in 2010. That said, a healthy Kinsler could bounce back in 2011 to put up big numbers from the keystone. He certainly looked good in Game 2 of the ALDS today, launching a James Shields pitch deep into the left field bleachers.

2011 Keeper Alert: Josh Hamilton

.359/.411/.633 with 33 home runs, 100 RBI, and 95 runs scored. This is what Josh Hamilton did in 2010 despite missing 29 games with injury. It should be enough to win him the AL MVP and a spot on your team next season, even if you’re in an auction league and he sports a high salary. Sure, his batting average was largely inflated by a ridiculous .390 batting average on balls in play, but the power is real and he did lower his strikeout rate. The injuries are a concern, but even if he makes an annual DL stint, the production of the 130-140 games he does play is enough to warrant first-round draft pick consideration.

2011 Regression Alert: Vladimir Guerrero

After hitting a career-worst .295/.334/.460 in 2009 for the Los Angeles Angels, Guerrero rebounded with the Rangers in 2010 to hit .300 with an .841 OPS. Healthy for the first time in a long time, he drove in 115 runs – surpassing 100 RBI for the first time since 2007. While Guerrero could have fallen in the category of surprise in 2010, his value in 2011 is tied directly to his home park. He hit .315 at home with an OPS of .881. On the road his average dropped to .284 and his OPS dipped under .800. If he returns to the Rangers, he should have another good season. If not, buyer beware depending on his landing spot.

For more on Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.