Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Floyd Rayford

Electric trains are not a hobby. Baseball cards are not a hobby. Collecting baseball cards is a hobby. Organizing, trading, reading and analyzing baseball cards is an obsession.

Collecting electric trains is a hobby, as is erecting electric train sets and villages and what have you’s – generally anything that gets you whacked by the mob.

I can understand the joy of electric trains…I think. When I was a kid, I had a long looping wooden track. I had hundreds of trains/cars/trucks, etc. I would set them up bumper to bumper in some order that made sense to a five year old. Then I would start with one and push them around. I would then swap some vehicle positioning and push them around the track again. My little mind found this incredibly fun and pleasing.

Hey to each his own, Rayford clearly needed a hobby to take his mind off the trials and tribulations of life in the minor/major leagues.

Rayford was drafted in 1975 by the California Angels and reached  AAA in 1979. The following season, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with a bag o’ cash for Larry Harlow, who had a decent season in 1980 for the Angles but would be out of baseball after 1981. Rayford wasn’t ready for prime time, however, as he spent the majority of 1980 and ’81 in the minors, appearing in the longest game in baseball history, a 33-inning, eight hour and 25 minute affair.

He got to play sparingly in 1982 with the big league club and was replaced by Cal Ripken at third on May 30, thus launching the longest consecutive games played streak in baseball history.

He was bounced between the Cardinals and Orioles for the next few years and would be finished in the majors after the 1987 season, the year this card was printed. Still, he had successes in limited opportunities. In 1985, he hit .306/.324/.521 and 18 HRs in 372 plate appearances.

Before he officially retired form ball, he played in the minors from 89-91, appearing in just 81 games as a player. He actually had a tougher task than playing, as he was a player-coach the last two seasons.

I do hope he got a World Series ring for 1982, that could be the centerpiece of this model train set.

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Baseball Daily Digest Radio with Joel Henard and Albert Lang 09/05 by JoelHenard | Blog Talk Radio

Baseball Daily Digest Radio with Joel Henard and Albert Lang 09/05 by JoelHenard | Blog Talk Radio.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tim ‘Rock’ Raines

The back of the Triple Play card tells you all you need to know about the way Tim Raines was viewed during one of the greatest careers in baseball. He was basically a base stealer – and he did lead the league for four consecutive years and average 60 a season from 1981-

1992 (yeah 12 seasons).

However, during that stretch he also walked, on average, 78 times a season en route to a .387 OBP. In 10 of his 23 seasons, Raines had an OBP .390 or higher. Heck from 1983-1987, his on base percentage was .406. That’s unbelievable. That’s Ted Williams territory.

Sure, he didn’t hit a lot of home runs or accumulate a ton of RBIs and only posted a paltry .294 career batting average along with 808 SBs – so yeah he was an earlier version of Juan Pierre. Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Nick Markakis

I love the back of this card. That said, I’m not quite sure that being able to “hit like crazy, run well, swallow up everything in right field (and where was Anna Benson?) and throw 90-mph-plus” is unique to Markakis. Although it should be noted that he was viewed as much as a pitching prospect as a hitter…and was drafted two times before being selected #7 overall by the Orioles in 2003.

While chin balancing is not unique (I have a friend who can balance almost anything as well, although he specializes in lacrosse sticks), it’s cool. In the grand scheme of things Markakis appears to be a down to earth guy who loves playing baseball and goofing around. The fact that he wanted to share the chin balancing factoid on his 2010 Topps card makes me like him a lot more – anytime I see players being “kids” or at least normal (and not approaching the game like a job, even though it is) warms my heart like apple pie a la mode. There’s something wholly sweet and honest about it, and I give kudos to Markakis for it.

Outside of the above, I have a hard time thinking/writing about Markakis – and it took awhile to write the above and even select this card for Flip Side inclusion.

Quite simply, I’ve expected so much of him given his early success and high draft pedigree that his plateau has left me disenchanted. On the other hand, he’s a great teammate and a phenomenal person – he and his wife have truly embraced Maryland (my home state) and really give back.

Since reaching the majors in 2006 at 22, Markakis has been a full time player. In his second full season he would hit 23 HRs, steal 18/24 bases and post a .300/.362/.485 line. He’d follow that up with arguably his best year (20 HRs and a .306/.406/.491 line). Clearly his 2008 (5.5 WAR) during which he walked 99 times would be the turning point in his career. Right?

Well, I hope not. Since 2008, Markakis’ slugging has dropped off significantly and he isn’t walking as much as one would like. Still, we must remember that Markakis will only be 27 during the 2011 season. I think people (especially myself) have expected too much too fast of Markakis.

He does own a .298/.368/.463 line in five full seasons with 89 HRs and has accumulated 18.3 WAR. For comparison sake, Carl Yastrzemski, by age 26, had played six relatively full seasons. Entering his age 27th season, Yaz had a .293/.373/.458 line with 95 HRs. Yaz had been worth 21.2 WAR at this point.

At 26, Yaz hit 16 HRs. At 26, Markakis hit 12 HRs. At 27, Yaz hit 44 and would average 37 a year for the next four seasons. I’m not saying Markakis will be Yaz, I’m just saying that the book isn’t closed on Markakis.

Maybe we’ll see Markakis stand on his head over the next few years. A Markakis in his prime makes the Orioles line-up pretty dynamic…

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h2h Corner ~ I’m a Believer: MApril Edition

Welcome to September’s “I’m a Believer” column. Yes, I got the name from a Monkees’ song. And yes, I like the song. Did you know that Neil Diamond wrote it, as well as many other songs by the Monkees? Isn’t Neil Diamond cool (Red Sox fans)?

Like the song teaches us, this column attempts to be a fun, quick read, mostly focused on what performances we can/can’t believe in. In short, it’s the second laziest article I write.

Without further ado, I’m a believer that: Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Opening Day(night)…thank god – or An Ode on Opening Day

It sure didn’t feel like Opening Day today. Usually the build up is akin to Christmas morning. That wasn’t the case today. Maybe I had done a lot of prep work, maybe it was how I awoke (a tongue in my ear and paw on my check at 6:03 – that’s how my puppy monster signals it’s time to go to the dog park). Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Encino Man, Baseball Fan

I was going through my 1991 Upper Deck set the other day and saw all the wonderful Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley cards as Orioles…then I got to the Astros and saw them all as Astros, then I got to Glenn Davis and remembered I tossed away his Orioles cards.

Then I watched Encino Man on TV and wondered, what if I was frozen in the backyard of someone’s place in California, thawed, and had to decide what baseball team I would root for.

Clearly, there’s a graphic for this already, but I wanted to go one step further and see what team unfrozen caveman lawyer would root for. To give a caveman’s astute analysis as he travels through the graphic.

Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Knowing ADP – How To Win Your League Before It Starts: Drew Stubbs

Drew Stubbs – Current ADP 156; 42nd OF – My Rank: 41st hitter; 17th OF

Let me start with a caveat: the batting average risk with Stubbs should knock him down your board a bit in roto leagues – however I’d still be comfortable taking him in the top 100 picks.

Meanwhile, in h2h, he should go near the top 40. Given his ADP, I think Stubbs is as close any player will come to matching the return on investment Carlos Gonzalez gave owners last year (and remember I called CarGo an 8th rounder last year).

You know the good with Stubbs – the ability to combine power and speed in a wayx that made Grady Sizemore look like a god (until they smote him). The bad from 2010 was an escalating K-rate – he struck out 32.7% of the time. He also swung at balls outside of the zone more often, made less contact with balls thrown inside the zone and traded line drives (down six percent) for fly balls (up four percent).

I think his K-rate can come down a good margin – it was 27% in 196 plate appearances in 2009 and never that close to 32% in the minors. Consequently, I can see his average inching up ever-so-slightly – he’ll probably hit a bit over .260. However, if he keeps trading line drives for fly balls, he has no average upside – but who cares? Everyone digs the long ball!

He could, legitimately, go 20-40, or 20-50. I think the floor is 20-30 (which he did last season). At only 26, Stubbs sure seems to have a bright future ahead of him. Given his ballpark and batting mates, he has good run/RBIs upside as well.

Quite simply, Stubbs should be the biggest bargain in h2h leagues in 2011.

Feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

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Maximizing every drop of value in every pick is hugely important. Taking a player in the fifth round that you could just as easily have taken in the sixth round is a major mistake. To avoid this, you need to know all about Average Draft Position (ADP).

While no two drafts are identical, knowing where a player typically goes gives you a general idea of where he will go in your draft. That said, be sure to do homework on your league mates subjective tendencies. For example, if there are Red Sox fans, be sure to snag guys like Lester and Youkilis a bit earlier than you normally would. In addition, you should talk up your sleepers before the draft (discretely of course) to see if anyone is on to them. If you don’t, an opponent with an itchy trigger finger who hasn’t done his ADP homework might snag one of your sleepers a round before anyone else is typically taking him.

Now that you know WHY ADP is important, I want to show you HOW to exploit it by highlighting those players who are going too low compared to players with similar ADPs. You can grab an ADP report at Mock Draft Central.

Feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

h2h Corner ~ Knowing ADP – How To Win Your League Before It Starts: Brett Cecil

Brett Cecil – Current ADP Not Ranked; 105th+? SP – My Rank: 77th Pitcher; 62nd SP

Cecil made an inauspicious debut in 2009 with the Toronto Blue Jays, posting a 5.30 ERA and not showing the 9+ K/9 rate he flashed in his minor league career. Still, he was beset by a .338 BABip (it was never higher than .313 in the minors) and a 74% strand rate – oh and it was only 93 innings. So his xFIP was 4.68.

He followed up his 2009 with 172.2 innings in the majors in 2010. His BABip was .293, he struck out 6.1 batters per nine innings and his strand rate was right at 70%. So he had a 4.22 ERA and 4.32 FIP.

Cecil, only 24, seems ready to take a step forward in 2011. He lowered his line drive and HR/FB percentage last year. He also increased the amount of times batters swung at pitches outside the zone, lowered his contact rate and increased his swinging strike percentage.

In short, I see Cecil incredibly capable of throwing up an ERA that hovers around 4.00 +/- .15. I think he’ll continue to miss more bats and see his K-rate improve to around 7. I’ll give him 175 innings, so good for 140 Ks or so with a bit of upside. If he can maintain a walk rate under three free passes per nine innings, we’re looking at a WHIP between 1.30-1.35.

I can’t imagine his numbers will be any worse than someone like Carl Pavano, Mike Pelfrey, and others. He could even outperform the likes of Wade Davis, Trevor Cahill and Tim Hudson. Certainly, if he is going undrafted in a lot of leagues, he’ll provide phenomenal value.

Feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

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Maximizing every drop of value in every pick is hugely important. Taking a player in the fifth round that you could just as easily have taken in the sixth round is a major mistake. To avoid this, you need to know all about Average Draft Position (ADP).

While no two drafts are identical, knowing where a player typically goes gives you a general idea of where he will go in your draft. That said, be sure to do homework on your league mates subjective tendencies. For example, if there are Red Sox fans, be sure to snag guys like Lester and Youkilis a bit earlier than you normally would. In addition, you should talk up your sleepers before the draft (discretely of course) to see if anyone is on to them. If you don’t, an opponent with an itchy trigger finger who hasn’t done his ADP homework might snag one of your sleepers a round before anyone else is typically taking him.

Now that you know WHY ADP is important, I want to show you HOW to exploit it by highlighting those players who are going too low compared to players with similar ADPs. You can grab an ADP report at Mock Draft Central.

Feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

h2h Corner ~ Knowing ADP – How To Win Your League Before It Starts: Gio Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez – Current ADP 178th; 49th SP – My Rank: 49th Pitcher; 42nd SP

I was on the Gio bandwagon hard last year and don’t see any real reason to jump off now.

Sure he benefited from an impressive A’s bullpen (78% strand rate) and had a little luck on balls put into play (.274 BABip – he did lower his line drive rate to 15.4%), but his FIP* was only 3.78 and his xFIP* rested at 4.18.

*From Fangraphs, Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a give time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average. Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) is a regressed version of FIP. It’s calculated exactly the same as FIP, except it replaces a pitcher’s homerun rate with the league-average rate (10.6% HR/FB) since pitcher homerun rates have been shown to be very unstable over time.

The real important thing about Gonzalez’s 2010 is that he posted a 7.4% HR/FB rate – something he had struggled to get into single digits throughout his professional career. The other surprising stat from his 2010: a 7.67 K/9 – a number much lower than most expected.

I think he will give up a handful more home runs, likely have his strand rate go down a tad (although the A’s bullpen again appears to be excellent) and post a BABip around .300. However, I think those will all be small regressions and he will get back to striking out a batter an inning.

Consequently, Gonzalez is a 4.00 ERA/1.35 WHIP guy with 200+ Ks. The more I think about it, the more he should be at least 10 spots higher and close in value to Jonathan Sanchez.

Sanchez, like Gonzalez, posted a banner 2010 year – Sanchez had a 9.54 K/9 rate, lowered his HR/FB rate to single digits and benefited from a fierce bullpen (79.5% strand rate) and a little luck on balls in play (.252 BABip). I see both guys putting up similar numbers – I do give the nod to Sanchez to post an ERA in the 3.75 range, but their WHIPs should be identical and both should hit around 210 Ks if they get to 200 IPs.

While I love Sanchez, I love Gonzalez and his price a little bit more.

Feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

______________

Maximizing every drop of value in every pick is hugely important. Taking a player in the fifth round that you could just as easily have taken in the sixth round is a major mistake. To avoid this, you need to know all about Average Draft Position (ADP).

While no two drafts are identical, knowing where a player typically goes gives you a general idea of where he will go in your draft. That said, be sure to do homework on your league mates subjective tendencies. For example, if there are Red Sox fans, be sure to snag guys like Lester and Youkilis a bit earlier than you normally would. In addition, you should talk up your sleepers before the draft (discretely of course) to see if anyone is on to them. If you don’t, an opponent with an itchy trigger finger who hasn’t done his ADP homework might snag one of your sleepers a round before anyone else is typically taking him.

Now that you know WHY ADP is important, I want to show you HOW to exploit it by highlighting those players who are going too low compared to players with similar ADPs. You can grab an ADP report at Mock Draft Central.

Feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

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