My Yahoo! Friends and Family Team

We drafted the 14-team YF&F League today. It's a standard Yahoo 5x5 format with only 1C, 4 OF and 2 UT, and there's a 1250 IP cap. Here are the overall results. And here's my squad:

Round Player Pos
1.8 Alex Rodriguez 3B
2.7 Kevin Youkilis 1B
3.8 Justin Upton OF
4.7 Mike Stanton OF
5.8 B.J. Upton OF
6.7 Colby Rasmus OF
7.8 Joakim Soria P
8.7 Francisco Rodriguez P
9.8 Matt Wieters C
10.7 Joe Nathan P
11.8 Brad Lidge P
12.7 Rafael Furcal SS
13.8 Jeremy Hellickson P
14.7 Alfonso Soriano OF
15.8 Alex Gordon 3B/OF
16.7 Josh Beckett P
17.8 Brian Matusz P
18.7 Brandon League P
19.8 Sean Rodriguez 2B/OF
20.7 Homer Bailey P
21.8 Nate McLouth OF
22.7 Trevor Cahill P
23.8 Alexi Casilla 2B/SS
24.7 Nyjer Morgan OF
25.8 Scott Downs P

Some quick notes:

I drafted hitters with my six picks, and then closers with four of my next five. I didn't take a starting pitcher (Hellickson) until the 13th round. Why? Because this league has a low innings cap, so closers have a lot more value than usual. Consider that normally when you roster a closer instead of an SP, you lose big in two categories, wins and Ks, in exchange for saves and maybe a small amount of ERA and WHIP. But in a league where we're all going to get to 1250 IP, it's really K/9 and wins/9. My closers won't hurt me at all in Ks, and they might even help slightly. And they'll probably hurt me a little in wins, but if they get 4 or 5 in 80 IP, it won't be by very much. Closers are capable of helping in five categories if they get you a handful of wins.

Of course, an elite starter is also worth more because he can get you 210 IP of your 1250 total, roughly 1/6 of your total output rather than 1/8 or 1/9 in an uncapped league. That means a Felix Hernandez or a Lincecum will help your ratios even more than usual. But if you can cobble together 400 good innings between four closers and assorted middle relief pickups, then you only need 850 more innings over the entire year. And because it's a daily league, you can bench your starters against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers, for example. So my plan was to skimp on starting pitching (unless someone good fell to me - I just missed on Max Scherzer, for example, and strongly considered Jon Lester (Round 3) and Zack Greinke (Round 6), but they were gone before my next turn - stock up on hitting and closers and then grab some pitchers with strikeout upside late.

The other plan - because this is such a tough group - was to be aggressive on pre-peak rising stars. So I took Wieters, Stanton, both Uptons, Rasmus, Hellickson, Matusz, Bailey and even Gordon. Even Cahill, Sean Rodriguez and Alexi Casilla fit that description to an extent.

Overall, I'm happy with the team, but will need my speculative pitchers to pitch well - at least when they have favorable match-ups.


By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/22/2011 8:17:00 PM
I'm starting to feel like the industry (not just you) is not putting enough emphasis on Stanton's downside. At age 21, with his K rate, his floor is really low. I mean, demoted to Triple-A low. Just from your team, I'd take Upton, Rasmus, and Soria before him. That means I won't get Stanton, I realize. But don't you think his downside doesn't justify the upside at this price? I mean, how much profit potential is there if you draft him in Round 4?
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/22/2011 8:21:00 PM
That is the earliest I have seen Arod go this year by far....Overall the draft looked pretty sharp. Mark Reynolds round 5???? Brilliant!!!! lol He must of been worried he couldn't get him 5 rounds later...which he probably could of. I despise innings capped leagues. I don't see a reason to penalize success when you can change the format to 5sp/2rp/2p. At least you are happy with your team...Soriano??? Who could of seen that coming????
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/22/2011 8:22:00 PM
I hear you - it was an aggressive pick. But I'm trying to win the league, so I'm more worried about what could go right, and that's 40 homers as long as he simply maintains the level he did last year as a 20-year old. The guy has a ridiculous work ethic and more raw power than anyone since a roided up McGwire and Bonds. Maybe even more than that
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/22/2011 8:23:00 PM
As for A-Rod, he wasn't going to be there on the way back, and he was the best pick at that spot in my opinion, given his scarce position, his park and his lineup.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/22/2011 8:44:00 PM
I like playing to win. You have to take a few risks to win a league with 10-12 other guys who know what they're doing. But I'd rather take risks a little later in the draft.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/22/2011 8:47:00 PM
So would everyone. But the early risks typically come with more rewards.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/22/2011 8:51:00 PM
In football, I know you believe in getting known quantities early and taking risks later. Are you saying you disagree with that in baseball? To what extent? Would you take a risk with a first-rounder? Second? Do the larger rosters justify taking risks earlier?
By: djm1144
On: 3/22/2011 8:59:00 PM
How do you justify taking ARod over Cano? Cano plays at an equally scarce position, hits in the same great ballpark and lineup, is only 28 and has no injury history and is coming off a career/mvp caliber season. With the amount of risk Arod comes with, he would need to offer much greater upside than Cano to justify the pick. I just don't see it.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/22/2011 9:03:00 PM
Actually, Mark, in football, I believe in safety in Round 1 (with occasional exceptions), and am willing to draft for upside as early as Round 2. Nothing's set in stone either way.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/22/2011 9:04:00 PM
DJM - ARod has much more power upside than Cano and even a little more steals upside.
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/22/2011 9:06:00 PM
Youk has more value at 3b than 1b....surprised you didn't take another 1b? Belt round 21...adda boy Erickson!!!!
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 3/22/2011 10:10:00 PM
For fun, I ran two sets of projected standings through Rotowire's draft software. I didn't look at this until the draft was well over; none of this influenced my picks.

I did adjust a couple of small things - I took Utley's projection down significantly (I may have had an old Utley projection in there) and made a couple of other minor tweaks (nothing affecting my own players). I also changed strikeouts to K/9 to go with how this capped league generally plays out.

I was half asleep during the entry, so I might have made some errors with position slotting. To that end, I ran two separate sets of standings, one including the three bench players and one without them.

Here's how the results fell:

(including reserves)
del don

(ignoring reserves)
del don

So depending on which batch you prefer, looks like Liss is in the basement or I am. Damn you, magic projections!

It's strange that three players radically adjust Jeff's standing (a lot of teams had notable changes between the formats). I'm assuming the Belt projection was very slight; I don't have it in front of me. I suppose we should play the season out and see what happens.
By: Erickson
On: 3/22/2011 10:38:00 PM
I actually adjusted Belt's projection just this morning - gave him half-a-season's worth of at-bats.
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 3/22/2011 10:49:00 PM
Correct, sir. On your backstage suggestion, I re-ran the standings with the latest and greatest projections in there. Nice feature, cool software. The standings didn't change too much; I'm too fried to relay them. Your team was a runaway winner in the non-reserve category.
By: Wombat123
On: 3/22/2011 11:32:00 PM
How much of a difference does it make if your league has a 1400 IP cap instead of 1250 in terms of the importance of K/9? I am trying to sort out my rankings for SP but am not sure how much of an emphasis to put on the K rates. I generally like to protect WHIP as much as possible because its impossible to make up, but a lot of the high K/9 guys have higher WHIPS.
By: Erik Siegrist
On: 3/23/2011 5:16:00 AM
Mark, Stanton's floor is pretty extreme, there's no doubt about it. High K rates can be lethal, and Chris Davis says hi with a creepy little smile on his face every time I look at Stanton's minor league numbers.

And yet... the kid's special. Every single person who has watched him play or been around him, with any degree of baseball knowledge, has come away completely floored by his relentless work ethic, baseball IQ and maturity. The anecdote I posted on the admin site yesterday -- about Stanton deliberately setting a pitching machine to throw sliders just off the plate 90% of the time, just so he can better recognize the mistakes in the 10% that are over the plate -- is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the kind of stuff he's been doing on his own for years already.

Does any of that matter? I think it does. That's the kind of mental skill set, combined with Stanton's ridiculous physical tools, that makes a player a Hall of Famer if he stays healthy. But I guess we're about to find out.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/23/2011 6:51:00 AM
"We're about to find out" (if he's a Hall of Famer) ... are we? He's 21. He could struggle this year and everything you're all saying about him still be true - just not this year.

It wasn't long ago I recall this type of pre-season hype about Justin Upton.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 7:36:00 AM
Right, and two years ago, I drafted Upton in the seventh round in this league, and everyone called it a reach. He went 29-20-.300.
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 8:04:00 AM
Liss talks about K/9 so much it's as if he forgot about ERA and WHIP (which still count). I love Hellickson, but he's a rookie and that limits his projectable upside. The Beckett/Matusz/Bailey trio will be lucky to go 4.30/1.35, which will be a last place number or close to it. Tell me why I'm wrong (but first note Beckett's lifetime Red Sox averages). Also, K-Rod, Lidge and League are not likely to be north of 1.30 in WHIP either.
By: Erik Siegrist
On: 3/23/2011 8:13:00 AM
No, we're about to find out if the kind of things I mentioned set Stanton apart from the Chris Davis' of the world - sorry if I muddled that a bit. We're arguing about Stanton's floor, not his ceiling. He could join Ott and Mathews in the "40 Hr season as a 21-year-old" club and still not make the HoF.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 8:18:00 AM
The closers peripherals are really good. Besides League - who was just a late round pick. Beckett's not facing the Sox or Yanks, either. (Yanks because I'll bench him). No point in looking at his overall WHIP in a daily, low innings cap league.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 8:20:00 AM
Which is why the K-rate is more important - if you mix and match Rick Porcello it won't work. But if Beckett's right, and he's facing everyone but the Yanks and White Sox and Rangers on the road, the K rate is good enough, and the peripherals should work.
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 8:38:00 AM
We got three bench spots in this league. How are you going to mix and match pitchers? Remember, you have to use a spot to keep Stanton after he gets sent down on May 11th.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 8:47:00 AM
You can put as many guys on your bench as you want. If you want 5 bench spots and two empty slots, that's fine, too. It's only 1250 IP.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 8:48:00 AM
I thought this was the year you were going to learn the rules, Mike.
By: Tenac
On: 3/23/2011 9:14:00 AM
'of' vs 'have' - not a trivial difference. I cringe every time I see "could of."

As for the 1250 IP limit, if injuries and sitting out some starts leaves you off the pace, it is really easy to set up a revolving door in your last bench spot and stream pitchers to make up the difference.
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 9:30:00 AM
Three non-disabled reserves. RosterPositions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OF, OF, OF, OF, Util, Util, P, P, P, P, P, P, P, P, P, BN, BN, BN, DL, DL
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 9:37:00 AM
Yeah, but again, you can reserve 8 players if you want by leaving roster slots blank. Learn the rules, bro.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/23/2011 10:03:00 AM
Justin Upton was a bust last year based on where he was drafted. That was the point.

As for benching Beckett and others against the Yanks, here's the thing. Yes, Liss can do that. But so can everybody else. So if Liss is behind in WHIP, it's not like he can catch up by benching pitchers against the Yanks, as everyone else will, too.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 10:21:00 AM
Most people won't bench top guys against anyone - the Lesters, Sabathias, King Felix - they'll be in the whole time. But I'll be benching all my guys against the strong teams. It condenses the SPs a little bit.

And the Upton analogy is off point. Stanton is where Upton was before 2009, not last year. He delivered a huge profit. Last year, Upton was a second-round pick.
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 10:43:00 AM
I want Stopa and Liss one afternoon on xm for three hours. Can't believe you can just deactivate guys for a day and keep them in some roster limbo. But I can do that too.
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 10:45:00 AM
And I have sabathia, latos, Price and Cain.
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 10:47:00 AM
So liss is letting 23 year olds talk him into things (Stanton) now when usually it's the other way around.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 11:51:00 AM
Wombat123 - only a mild difference between 1250 and 1400 in a daily mixed league.
By: lvtdude
On: 3/23/2011 1:15:00 PM
You'd better bench Beckett against more than just the Yanks. Last season he only had 2 ballparks where he compiled an ERA south of 3.86; Camden Yards and Safeco. Just start him against the Orioles and Mariners and you'll be fine.
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/23/2011 1:21:00 PM
Liss rules manipulation....WIN! LOL Where is that post on knowing your leagues rules.....insert here! 150 innings is actually a big deal with a low amount to start. Almost of months worth of pitching. Daily lineup changes....yuck! Looks like Liss got most of you on an Okee Dokee tactic. Liss =
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 1:23:00 PM
Lvtdude - would not have drafted Beckett at all if I thought he would simply repeat last year.
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 2:15:00 PM
You know I was just joking about that last post, Chris. I know you think for yourself and your days of talking 23 year olds into things are over.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 2:17:00 PM
Unfortunately, you might be right about that latter point, Mike.
By: lvtdude
On: 3/23/2011 2:25:00 PM
I used to be a huge Beckett fan, but you just can't trust him. He has never struck out 200 batters. He has a career 3.958 ERA, and has only bettered 3.86 once in the past 5 seasons, and that was in 2007. The problem is that you made him your 2nd starting pitcher, behind a rookie, and backed him up with more unproven pitchers. I don't want to be too harsh, because I've seen teams that I thought were bad win the league, but I think you reached throughout the draft.
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 2:38:00 PM
You say "reach" and Liss hears, "Duh! Winning!"
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 2:53:00 PM
It's K/9 that matters. Beckett's K/9 is strong. Also wins/9 should be good on that team minus the Yankees and Rangers. Love that people think I reached. Mike's last comment is right.
By: Erickson
On: 3/23/2011 3:14:00 PM
Are Charlie Sheen quotes the new Godwin's Law when it comes to internet arguments?
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/23/2011 4:20:00 PM
Me and Liss do have perfect chemistry for a "Breakfast Table" or XM show. He'd never do it, though, out of fear that I'd constantly one-up him. ;)
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/23/2011 4:24:00 PM
Yeah, but Upton was taken in the seventh round, not the fourth. And that was precisely the point. I'm not saying I wouldn't want Stanton. I'm not denying his upside. The point is that everyone is drafting him as if the upside will pan out.
By: Erickson
On: 3/23/2011 4:29:00 PM
I said this on-air, but I'll repeat it here. "Playing safe early, taking risks late" is the new "buy low, sell high." It sounds great, but everyone is trying to do it, so it's a lot easier said than done. I think that some reaches are appropriate early, too.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 4:38:00 PM
What Erickson said. This isn't your home league, Mark, where you get all the high upside guys right at ADP.
By: Kevin Payne
On: 3/23/2011 4:49:00 PM
My two cents - I'm fine with what Liss did. Erickson went with Stubbs. I just took Bruce at pick 44 in a league Dalton runs because I knew he wasn't going to be there at pick 69 which was my next pick. When I'm drafting I look all the time to evaluate who will be available with my next pick and if I don't think a player will be there, I'm fine with "reaching."
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/23/2011 5:22:00 PM
I sort of agree with all that, but here's the thing. If everyone is being aggressive with high-upside guys, then there will be some value/profit with the safer, more established guys.
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 5:26:00 PM
You can always sell high and buy low meaning trading a red hot guy for someone badly underachieving.
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/23/2011 6:18:00 PM
"Playing safe early, taking risks late" is the new "buy low, sell high." No it ain't!!!! Playing safe to me means avoiding injuries not upside. I don't shy away from upside early in the draft...just injuries. All buying low means is you will get more value than when or what you took him for. I think Gonzo pick 16 was a good buy low guy as I think he will finish much higher for example. I like Stanton. He is a soph slump candidate but I don't think he is a Davis clone. Youk is probably a bigger risk than Stanton if you consider he averaged 145 games the last 5 years and he is his only 1b.
By: DerekCarty
On: 3/23/2011 6:32:00 PM
So Jeff and Chris told me that I had a hand in starting this debate with my pick of Stanton at $27 in LABR NL. Since Chris had seen me do this, he decided to take Stanton in the 4th in Y! F&F since I would have two picks before he had another chance at him.

Stanton would definitely have been on my radar at those picks, and I don't think it's as ridiculous a pick as most people here seem to think it is. If Stanton gets 500 ABs, I don't see how his [B]mean[B] projection is any less than 35 HRs. This is a guy who has torn apart every level of the minors, has great MLEs, and has posted a terrific half a season at the major league level. And when I say terrific, I don't just mean in terms of total numbers.

I mean, if you look at his raw power, you see that he's hitting the ball - with regularity - close to 450 feet. He's hitting balls past 400 feet to the opposite field. These are terrific signs for a power hitter, and they are signs that his power is legit. If you can hit the ball 450 feet, logically, you're also going to be hitting them 350. Further, he showed pretty decent plate discipline despite his K% (which isn't as bad as most make it out to be). He swung at pitches out of the zone at a pretty-close-to-league-average rate and made contact with them at a well-above-average rate.

Maybe I'm using a straw-man argument here, but it seems to me that there are two distinct arguments people make against a guy like Stanton who has put up a good half season but is otherwise "unproven": 1) Pitchers will adjust to him and find his holes, and 2) Since we're working with limited data, we have to regress him heavily to the mean.

Chris has already addressed (1) to an extent by talking about Stanton's stellar work ethic and the example of the pitch machine throwing 90% sliders off the plate and 10% over the middle so he can recognize mistake pitches better.

In regard to (2), what many people fail to understand is that "regression to the mean" doesn't mean regressing a guy like Stanton to league average. I'd go as far as to say that doing so is wrong. When you have a guy like Stanton with measurable raw power like he has, regressing his stats to league average is assuming that he's a league average player, which he's not. You need to regress him to players like him.

Unfortunately, there aren't many comparables for a 20 year old guy with 450 ft power and a 30%+ K%, but if you eliminate the age, you'd be comparing him to some elite power hitters like Ryan Howard, Mark Reynolds, Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, Jim Thome (a few years back), etc. That's some very good company and regressing to that group would make Stanton look much more favorable than simply regressing him to all rookies or to league average. Because while we only have a half season of MLB data on him, we do have other data and we do know that he is not a mere rookie or league average player.

If someone has another specific argument against Stanton, I'd love to hear it.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 6:41:00 PM
Great stuff, Derek, and I'm not just saying that because you're backing up my decision. I'll also add something here that I wrote as part of my Charging the Mound article which will be up later today:

Usually when people rip me for making a certain pick, they'll just yell about how much of a reach I made. What they're really saying is that I deviated badly from ADP. I picked out of turn. A good critique of my pick would be making the case that my valuation (which is all that's important because it's my team) is wrong. If my valuation is right, it doesn't matter how out of turn I went unless that player would have been available in the next round. So long as that's not the case, the only critique you can make about my pick is that my valuation was wrong. And yelling "reach" isn't that. You have to attack the basis for my valuation. Which is harder to do because I didn't come upon it without a fair amount of research, experience and deliberation.

Basically Derek's point does the opposite - it bolsters the basis for my valuation of Stanton.

By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/23/2011 6:50:00 PM
I agree with what you say about Stanton for the most part. That still doesn't mean he won't hit a soph slump due to trying to live up to all of the hype. Unlike Chris Davis..I think Stanton is a good ballplayer so it just depend on how he handles the pressure. I would like to hear you justify Reynolds round 5? Were you really afraid you couldn't get him 2 rounds later? I don't see it....
By: nayfel
On: 3/23/2011 7:57:00 PM
I still don't see how Arod is close to the 8th best player. He's been having trouble reaching 30 homers and while he'll inevitably be healthier this year than the last two, he also s really getting up there in age. In this post obvious steroids era, it doesn't seem that many guys will hit 40+ hrs after turning 35 years old.
His avg also should be sub .300 and if not for his ridiculous avg with runners on base last year, his Rbis numbers would have simply been good.

I'm an actual Yankees/ Arod fan and I wish I was wrong but I think his days of posting top 10 value are gone.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 8:08:00 PM
ARod hit 30 HR the last two years in an average of 130 games while playing hurt.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/23/2011 8:12:00 PM
To be clear, my argument that Stanton was a reach isn't based on ADP. It's based on his age, K%, and the real risk he spends a huge part of the year in the minors. To use your term, it's the "valuation." Yes, I said I saw him as more like a seventh-rounder, but that's because I valued the players in Rounds 4-6 more.

It's easy to say Stanton will be like Adam Dunn or Ryan Howard. But how do we honestly know he won't be more like Chris Davis? Compare Stanton's numbers in the minors to Davis - are they really that different? I'm not saying Stanton is Davis; I actually agree that he's a decent bet to hit 35 HRs. But if he hits .240 or .250 in the process, how much is he really worth? One could argue he'd be a somewhat better version of Mark Reynolds at a less important position.
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/23/2011 8:19:00 PM
Come on Liss, you took him 8th because he came into camp in shape and he is raking right now....not just his last 2 year stats...please!
By: msalfino
On: 3/23/2011 9:44:00 PM
Stanton is a leading candidate to be hitting under .200 with a ton of strikeouts 100 abs in and if he does he will be sent down. You cannot burn a fouth round pick on a guy who can plausibly be out of a job due to some small sample size struggles. There's at least a 20 percent chance this happens and that will cost him 70 percent of his season. So you can't project him for more than 130 games of .250 average and no more than 30 homers. That's no way top 100 given his pos.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/23/2011 10:42:00 PM
Mark and Mike - what you say is true, albeit exaggerated - it would take a pretty unlikely stretch of futility to land him in the minors (.200 with 10 homers on June 1 might not do it), but even so, that's why he's a 4th and not a second round pick. Remember - every player has a significant bust rate. Let's look at last year's 4th round players in that league Aaron Hill, Brian McCann, Adam Lind, Nick Markakis, Jose Reyes, Andrew McCutcheon, Shin Soo Choo, Johan Santana, Jayson Werth, Nelson Cruz, Billy Butler, Aramis Ramirez and two guys who I can't find because they weren't on the end-of-season rosters (probably massive busts). A few of these guys panned out, but plenty were either total or partial busts. I think you guys are overly worried about downside as if Stanton's the only player in the league with it. I'm more focused on the upside and what could go right.
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 7:40:00 AM
True. But none of those guys were risks to lose a job within 100 abs. They won't need a big push considering it will gain them perhaps another arb. year.
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 7:44:00 AM
And Ike Davis hits the ball as far as anyone. Plus he hits lefties. Loss would have loved Dave kingman. Yes I have a kingman jersey.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/24/2011 8:16:00 AM
How was I exaggerating? As I see it, even if he hits 35 HRs and has a .250 AVG (which isn't his best-case scenario, but it's close), that's not worth a fourth round pick. If we're being honest, the Mark Reynolds comparison isn't that far off (if you forget their names and simply look at the projected stats).
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/24/2011 8:35:00 AM
He's not that big a risk to get sent down - that's what you're exaggerating. Or if he did, he'd kill the minors and be up in three weeks. And 35 HR is his full season *projection,* not his ceiling. The Reynolds comp isn't totally on point as he's the all-time K leader in major league history. I think you're oversimplifying with these comps. Read Derek's post on Stanton - he's pretty unique.
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 9:34:00 AM
20% chance of being sent down early is conservative. Then why would he come back quick when they can lock the arb clock? You have to warily watch his early boxscores. That's incontrovertible.
By: mhixpgh1
On: 3/24/2011 12:38:00 PM
Two big flies for Stanton today. Seven RBI. Not too shabby.

My step son and I call him Bam Bam.
By: bogfella
On: 3/24/2011 12:46:00 PM
Ya know, if playing it safe early and taking risks late is the trend, I am probably not going to be seen as very trendy. I take risks early AND late! Is Stanton a "risk" ... absolutely! But he is a calculated risk and that makes all the sense in the world. If you project his numbers at one level and someone else projects them lower, one of you might just be right. Every year I get chuckles from those who are more risk averse (and since I usually do it with pitchers the chuckles are sometimes out and out laughter lol) when I take a "risk" ... funny how those laughs fade away when the "risk" outperforms his draft position/price by a large margin :)
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 1:51:00 PM
You realize that if Stanton hits 45 homers at age 21 he'll be in the running to be the best player ever. That's your "upside." It's like betting on the upside that a five-pound diamond is buried in your backyard.
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 2:01:00 PM
The ridiculously conservative projection of 30 homers has been accomplished exactly nine times by a 21. The supposedly betable 40 homers? One time in the history of baseball -- Eddie Matthews in 1953. I love betting on something that's basically never happened and calling it "upside." We're living in a Stanton Bubble, apparently.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/24/2011 2:40:00 PM
35 HRs is his projection? Come on. 35 HRs would be a B+ season for him, maybe A-. His C season would be 25 HRs. And that's what you have to identify when you give a "projection" - a C season.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/24/2011 2:47:00 PM
Stanton had 123 Ks in 359 ABs last year. Projected over 600 ABs, that's 205 Ks. The Reynolds comp. seems on point to me.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/24/2011 2:48:00 PM
Let's put it this way - what would you set as his over/under for HRs. 35? If so, name your bet amount - I'll take the under.
By: DerekCarty
On: 3/24/2011 5:07:00 PM
I was probably a little overzealous when I said 35 HRs in 500 AB, but I think his "C" projection in 500 AB would be 30 HR and 35 HRs in 600 AB, and I don't think that's unreasonable at all. It seems like we look at a guy, see that he's a rookie and lacking MLB experience, and feel like we must automatically knock him down a few pegs merely because of that. But that's not all we know about Stanton. We have scouting information about him - some of which is even quantifiable - that says he's not a mere rookie. We also have minor league performance and MLEs, which say that he is this caliber of player.

If you look at THT's Oliver MLEs, which underlie a projection system that has been shown to be one of, if not, the best system for projecting young players, we see that Stanton has posted MLEs of 20, 28, and 37 HR/500 AB the past three seasons. Weight that 5/4/3 and you get 30 HR per 500/AB. Add in an aging curve, which is steep for a 20-year old, and a 30 HR mean skills projection is perfectly reasonable. If you look at Oliver's projection itself, it has him down for 33 HRs in 460 AB. If you want to look at other projections, Bill James has him for 36 HR/500, FanGraphs Fans for 31 HR/500, and ZiPS for 30 HR/500.

Where I think you can argue, however, is on the playing time projection. If you think 500 AB is too many because he could get sent back to the minors, then I'm not going to argue with you. This isn't something that we can quantify, and there is some possibility that this happens. 20% sounds too high to me, but maybe I'm wrong.

But if you agree with Jeff's point that safety early and risks late is largely unattainable in tough leagues like this and you submit to taking risks early, then Stanton is as good of a risk as they come because the skills are there and all we need to hope for is the PT. Plus, there's additional, significant upside in his skills projection.
By: lvtdude
On: 3/24/2011 5:42:00 PM
I can't wait until major league pitchers exploit Stanton's whiffs, and he hits under .240. I expect .232 and 28 homers.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 3/24/2011 6:17:00 PM
Thinking about this more, 28 homers is what I see as his "C" projection.
That's what I'd put as his over/under, too, as that's the number where I'd have a hard time deciding whether to go over or under.

Good stuff, guys. Enjoyable debate.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/24/2011 6:22:00 PM
Salfino's argument is cherry picking the data. Justin Upton went 29-20-.300 at 21, Ted Williams hit 23 bombs and hit ,344 at 21, Mickey Mantle hit 23 bombs and hit .311 at age 20, Cal Ripken hit 28 homers in 1982 when homers were harder to come by. Who cares about the magic number 30? I only looked up 5 guys before I found these numbers. Many more 21 year olds had huge years in the big leagues. Who cares if they hit 28 homers or 31 or 22 while hitting for a great average. Stanton's 21, and his skill is jaw-dropping power. If he succeeds like many 21 year olds have, he'll hit a ton of homers. The question isn't how many 21 year olds hit for x homers. It's how many 21 year olds were able to star at the major league level. The answer - quite a few. Given Stanton's power - starring = hitting home runs. If 21 year olds can star in the majors, then 21 year olds with huge power can be big power hitters in the majors. Now this list has some pretty impressive names on it, but of course it does. Unless you're a major prospect, you'll never get 550 at-bats in the majors to begin with. Of the 21-year olds that got 300-plus at-bats at age 20 and hit more than 20 homers, how many hit 30 homers? That's the question you should be asking.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/24/2011 6:29:00 PM
Put differently, when the Cavs lost 20 games in a row, it would be like saying - "No way they lose the 21st - only one team in NBA history has ever had a 21-game losing streak." Yeah, but of the ones that had 20, how many got to 21? That's the appropriate question. To ask how many 21 year olds have done x in a vacuum as if Stanton didn't hit 20-plus in 359 at-bats last year at age 20 is unserious. As for the Reynolds comparison - still a major stretch. Reynolds does that every year into his prime. Stanton did it as a 20 year old rookie in a small sample. The presumption is Stanton will get better with age and experience. And Stanton was at his best in September showing some improvement. I'd say 150 Ks is about the O/U in 500 ABs.
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 7:56:00 PM
What? 23 players have hit more than 23 homers at that age. Homers are the ball game for this pick, I'm sorry to say. What else can he do? Stanton is Ted Williams now. Hysterical. 31 have had more than 20. Mickey Mantle had 21 (Stanton: more power and better than Mantle!) There are no multiple endpoints here. I looked at all players at your projection level, not mine. "Jaw-dropping power...." You sound silly. What does that even mean? You can only hit a non-wind-aided ball 470 feat and many have done that. "Stanton defies the laws of physics!"
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 8:06:00 PM
The 10 guys who hit as many or more homers than Stanton at age 20 averaged 27.4 homers at age 21. And these guys were all miles better than Stanton. I mean, Ted Williams struck out 709 times in his entire career and a career worst 64 times as a rookie. Stanton will Williams's career total beat by age 23.
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 8:07:00 PM
But we're the simpletons who don't do research....
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/24/2011 8:08:00 PM
Yeah the point was stanton's ted williams. Way to ignore the actual argument mike.
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 8:09:00 PM
And they averaged 30.1 at age 20. So they went down, not up. So much for getting better with age and experience. Tell that to Dwight Gooden.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/24/2011 8:13:00 PM
Right the average hrs of the 10 guys was 27.4. Which means that's a rough baseline knowing nothing else about the guy. That includes injured guys and those who got sent down. You've made my point about what stanton's healthy baseline is.
By: msalfino
On: 3/24/2011 8:23:00 PM
None of those guys got sent down because none struck out remotely ONE-THIRD of the time.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/24/2011 8:30:00 PM
That's because no one who hits 20 hrs in the majors at 20 ever gets sent down.
By: lvtdude
On: 3/24/2011 8:58:00 PM
Russell Branyan could hit the ball really far, too. He hit 17 HR in his first 235 ab. He also struck out 97 times and hit .230. He continued to be a strikeout machine and a platoon player. Now, I'm not saying Stanton will follow the same career path, but one thing he doesn't do that all the 21 year olds listed as comparisons did, is make contact. Is he a physical freak? Sure. Is he even in the same conversation as the Hall-Of-Famers mentioned? Of course not. At least not now. Whenever HOF'ers and 21 year olds are mentioned in the same debate, you know the debate has achieved silliness. I think it will take an awful lot for Stanton to get sent down, but I also think it will take a minor miracle for him to hit over .250, or reach 40 HR. Prince Fielder hit 50 as a 23 year old, but he didn't strike out at nearly Stanton's pace (21%), and he hit .288.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/24/2011 9:48:00 PM
Vegas odds of mlb home run title: stanton 15 to 1. Same as teixeira and Bautista. ARod 20:1, Dunn 10 to 1.
By: lvtdude
On: 3/25/2011 5:10:00 AM
I'm sure the casinos will be quite happy to take your money.
By: rsteingall
On: 3/25/2011 8:29:00 AM
"I'd say 150 Ks is about the O/U in 500 ABs"

I just can't see him dropping his K% below 30%, despite the strong September. The contact rate was much better than I expected last season, but he could also go in the tank swinging for the fences like Mark Reynolds did in '10. Give me the over all day.

Stanton is a unique player with huge upside. Could he return 4th round value? Absolutely, and then some. He could also be a monumental bust and be sent down by May 15th. A pretty polarizing name, and great debate.

I really wonder how the league is going to pitch him this season, and how he has adjusted to the scouting reports that are out on him. That will ultimately be the deciding factor, and none of us can predict that until we see some evidence once the season starts.

I thought the Stanton pick was a reach, but it isn't complete lunacy based on your rationale.
By: msalfino
On: 3/25/2011 9:16:00 AM
Rob is too modest to say this but he's one of the best prospect guys out there, as his work on Yahoo! will attest.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/25/2011 9:48:00 AM
I bet on Justin Upton 100 to 1 and ARod 20 to 1. But just saying Vegas has Stanton at 15 to 1 for a reason. They could easily have him 25 to 1 if they wanted to induce more action on him.
By: lvtdude
On: 3/25/2011 10:40:00 AM
"ARod has much more power upside than Cano and even a little more steals upside." Yes, but A-Rod's average has dropped 12 points, 16 points, and another 16 points the past few seasons. Cano is a fair bet to hit .320. If A-Rod's plummet continues, the next stop is the mid-.250s. I think he's going to hover in the .270's for a couple years, but that slide is UGLY.
By: msalfino
On: 3/25/2011 10:57:00 AM
"They could easily have him 25 to 1 if they wanted to induce more action on him." Well, clearly they don't have to. Why give it away when the fanboys will happily take 15-1.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/25/2011 11:16:00 AM
As I said, I like Stanton this year, but I bet Upton at 100 to 1 and ARod at 20 to 1. If Stanton were 25 to 1, I'd probably have bet him, too. 15 to 1 wasn't enough for me. But Vegas obviously doesn't want my action at 25 to 1, otherwise it would have set the line there.

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