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Kyle Elfrink

Kyle Elfrink

And, Now ... Predictions! By Kyle Elfrink

It would be patently unfair for me to post all these columns over the previous two months without providing the lifeblood of preseason anticipation ... Predictions! I'll right that wrong today. With the 2015 season less than a week away, here are my final, end-all, be-all, take-'em-to-the-bank, you-might-wanna-forget-about-them-by-October fantasy baseball predictions. • Phil Hughes, Part Deux The move to Minnesota proved to be just the tonic to what ailed Hughes. Leaving the home run-heavy culture of the new Yankee Stadium (where Hughes allowed a HR in one of every 23 at-bats) was expected to smooth the rough edges for the right-hander, but if you watched the righty in 2014, you saw a guy carrying himself with confidence and control outside...

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Frank Tomkins

Frank Tomkins

Preseason Prep - March 31st

Justin Verlander (SP-DET). Verlander is questionable both to make his next spring start and to be ready for his first start of the regular season after being lifted from his most recent start with soreness in his triceps. While this is not an area of the arm that usually leads to serious injury, this setback is one more in a long line of reasons to avoid Verlander. Coming off of a year in which he posted a hideous (in this era of suppressed offense at least) and lost another full MPH off his fastball velocity, while striking out only 6.95 batters per 9, Verlander is firmly planted on my "avoid at all costs" list. While there is some reason to...

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Michael Waldo

Michael Waldo

Preseason Prep - March 29th

Chicago Cubs Jorge Soler - Lets talk about Soler power. No, not solar power, but (Jorge) Soler's power. Overshadowed by teammate and mega prospect, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler has quietly put together an impressive Spring Training. Through 15 games, the Cubs right fielder is slashing .333/.380/.600 with 3 homeruns, 10 RBIs, a double and a triple. With an 8% walk rate and an 18% strikeout rate, Soler's approach at the plate can't quite be considered advanced, but it's certainly better than Javier Baez's 33% strikeout rate and 6% walk rate. So we should be jumping all over him, right? Not so fast. In his first year in the majors, Soler burst onto the scene with a fantastic .281 ISO. Interestingly,...

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Kyle Elfrink

Kyle Elfrink

From Spring Bump, to Summer Jump?, (Part 2) By Kyle Elfrink

(Note: This is a continuation from Part 1, which was published on 3-27-15) NL Outfielders Eric Young, Jr., Atlanta Young, Jr., is back on radars after appearing to win the early-season centerfield spot in Atlanta. His defense is spotty, his hitting is iffy, but when Young plays, Young steals. In 504 career games, he's produced an impressive 138 stolen bases. More impressively, he's had 76 thefts over the past two years while owning just a .306 OBP in 248 games. He's carried the profile into spring with 5 SBs in 17 games. Don't pay attention to the .321 batting average ... he's a .250 hitter and that's it. Come May, Young will likely have to cede playing time back to...

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James Turvey

James Turvey

Preseason Prep - March 28th, 2015

Twins Brian Dozier's Power/speed Combo Brian Dozier has been on the fantasy map for a couple seasons now, with an 18/14 HR/SB season in 2013 followed up with a 23/21 pairing in 2014. Now headed into 2015, Dozier is a top-five commodity at second base, offering a power/speed combo that not many others in baseball - let alone at second base - can offer. In fact, only five players in all of baseball reached that arbitrary 20/20 standard, and Dozier was the only second basemen. Dozier also added 112 runs in 2014, and had 71 RBI. There are a few signs that 2015 could see a bit of a slip in production, though. For one, Dozier never had a power...

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Kyle Elfrink

Kyle Elfrink

From Spring Bump, to Summer Jump?, (Part 1) By Kyle Elfrink

Let's agree from the start ... there will not be an extensive Kris Bryant discussion in this particular piece! The Cub slugger has hijacked all of the Spring scuttlebutt with his power-laden showcase down in Arizona (up to 71 homers at last check, right?). Everyone has an opinion on what he will accomplish in Year #1 (even with the start of Year #1 up in the air) and a vast majority of those opinions expect a fantasy stud from the get-go. I think that more than 20 bombs will land over the wall, but I do worry about a middling-to-weak batting average. Fantasy stud in 2015? No. Top 12 third baseman in 2015? I'll join you there. OK, OK, the...

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Nicholas Rossoletti

Nicholas Rossoletti

Pre-Season Report- March 27, 2015

New York Yankees Replacing Mariano- Not necessarily a one man job I know it's a year late on the "Replacing Rivera" storyline, but after almost two decades of being the most stable fantasy closer in baseball, the Yankees closer situation seems anything but stable. As we enter 2015, David Robertson is gone (and suffering from his own issues) and Delin Betances seems like the odds on favorite to get the first crack at getting the saves in the Bronx. The only issue is that Betances has been wildly unconvincing through the spring. Betances struck out almost 40% of the batters he faced in 2014 (39.6%) while averaging 96.6 MPH on his fastball. The velocity has been down all spring, and...

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Phil Double

Phil Double

Preseason Prep-March 26, 2015

Cincinnati Reds Has Johnny Cueto established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball? Johnny Cueto was brilliant in 2014. Cueto went 20-9 and posted a 2.25 ERA over 243.2 IP. Cueto had been labeled as a health risk heading into 2014, but responded by taking the ball every fifth day. There are some reasons to suggest regression, like his .238 BABIP, but Cueto has shown the ability to induce weak contact. This could be due to his great change-up, cutter, turn in his delivery, or a combination of all three. Cueto also posted a .236 BABIP in 2013, which suggests that it is a skill and not an outlier. Cueto is going to have a hard time repeating...

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Paul Sauberer

Paul Sauberer

Preseason Prep- March 25, 2015

Notes from the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues... Down the homestretch With less than two weeks to go until Opening Day, some positional battles are becoming clearer. For the Rangers the main unsettled spots are left field, left handed reliever, and fifth starter. Alex Gonzalez- P- TEX- "Chi Chi" Gonzalez was sent to the minor league camp yesterday. This was a day after he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks with 6 Ks in 5 IP of work against the Reds. Gonzalez came into camp as a long shot contender for the fifth starter slot but impressed with his work in the Cactus League. He struck out 16 in 13 IP. Gonzalez may start the season at AAA...

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Steve Shumansky

Steve Shumansky

Preseason Prep 3-24-15

As we drive deeper into the Spring Training season, we will be looking at a few players from each of a trio of teams, the Padres, Cardinals and the Blue Jays. These 3 teams have the ability to be very competitive this season in each of their respective Divisions. This potpourri of players range from established stars, to rising stars, to a hitter and pitcher in position battles, and a talented young player coming off a very disappointing season. Then on to a smorgasbord of players across a sampling of the remaining Major League teams. In the mix we have 3 pitchers with emerging star potential, a rebound candidate, and two veterans who might take a fall or might not....

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Kyle Elfrink

Kyle Elfrink

The LACK of Pitching by Kyle Elfrink

There are a pair of things that we can all agree on as we arrive on the doorstep of 2015 ... 1. Mike Trout is the unquestioned number-1 overall pick and, 2. There's a ton of pitching to be found throughout a fantasy draft. Both statements hit the target, but there is a caveat on fact number-2. A month of covering experts' drafts, taking calls, and doing my own mock drafts, have taught me that there's plenty of pitching in a Mixed League; there's a load of it in an NL-only set-up; but, if you find yourself landing in an American League-only set-up, be prepared to be completely underwhelmed by the pitching options. The position has undergone total reconstructive surgery...

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Frank Tomkins

Frank Tomkins

Preseason Prep - March 23, 2015

Bruce Rondon (RP-DET). Rondon's name is one to keep in mind as a possible closer-in-waiting. Despite missing the 2014 season due to TJ surgery, Rondon has hit 100 MPH with his fastball during spring training and posted solid numbers in his 2013 debut with the Tigers (3.45 ERA, 3.01 FIP and a 9.42 K/9 rate. With only the ancient Joe Nathan and the unreliable Joakim Soria ahead of him in the bullpen pecking order, Rondon is worth a stash in AL-onlyand holds leagues, as his contributions in strikeouts and the ratio categories should provide value even in the absence of save chances. James McCann (C-DET). McCann is a potential sleeper candidate in deep two catcher and AL-only leagues, given his...

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Walter Kuberski

Walter Kuberski

Preseason Prep - March 22, 2015

Archie Bradley and As The Diamonbacks' Rotation Turns A day after general manager Dave Stewart declared that Bradley wasn't "Major League Ready," the former top pitching prospect tossed 4 solid innings, allowing 2 unearned runs on 5 hits while striking out 3 with 0 free passes. 2014 was a rough season for Bradley, as he posted a 75:49 K:BB ratio through 83 innings in the minors while continually struggling through pestering arm injuries. Manager Chip Hale continues to like what he sees, lauding Bradley's improved curveball and aggressiveness in the strike zone and suggesting, despite Dave Stewart's comments, that Bradley is still in the hunt for a rotation spot. While there are a plethora of options for Hale to consider...

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James Turvey

James Turvey

Preseason Prep - March 21st, 2015

Minnesota Twins Twins' top power threat: Oswaldo Arcia The 23-year old Twins' outfielder has yet to go deep in Spring Training this season, but he has a pair of doubles, and is hitting for a good average (.364). Granted, Arcia has only played in seven games in spring so far, but the lack of any home runs is somewhat notable given his propensity for the long ball in his time with the Twins. In 788 career plate appearances at the major league level (just slightly more than a full season), Arcia has 34 home runs, despite his home stadium being a quite spacious one in the Twin Cities. The biggest concern with Arcia is that his limited batting average may...

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Schuyler Dombroske

Schuyler Dombroske

Preseason Prep - March 20th, 2015

Rene Rivera - I feel like I left a bit unsaid a few weeks ago regarding Rivera, whose 318 ABs last season were his highest total since 2007. Rivera was pushed to the majors (and into a backup role) right out of A-ball as a 20 year old 11 years ago, and it seems like he has never gotten a real shot at consistent playing time until last season in San Diego. Rivera was 8th among catchers in WAR last year, putting up a 232/312/490 line away from Petco. The Rays are very happy with him as the primary backstop, and with his easy 15+ HR potential, I like him by far the most of the late-game catching options out...

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Sam Wallach

Sam Wallach

Preseason Prep - March 19th

Rising Stars: Mookie Betts (BOS-CF) - Let's start things off with one of the hottest batters in spring training, Mookie Betts. In 29 at bats Betts already has 13 hits, seven of which have gone for extra bases. If the newly bolstered Red Sox lineup produces around him, Betts will have a breakout season. Betts earned the role as Boston's lead off hitter by hitting .291 in his first major league season. On his way to the majors, Betts demolished minor pitching hitting .341, .355, and .335 at Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A respectively. For many rookies the numbers don't translate well to the big leagues, but this wasn't the case for Betts. At only 21 years old he posted a...

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Michael Waldo

Michael Waldo

Preseason Prep - March 18th

San Diego Padres: Kevin Quackenbush (RP - SD) - Going into the 2014 season as a relatively unknown commodity, Kevin Quackenbush proved his worth down the stretch and is now in the conversation to be the primary set-up man for closer Joaquin Benoit. Quackenbush doesn't boast the typical indicative stats that you'd usually search for in a closer and for that reason, his overall outlook makes me nervous. Despite a below average swinging strike rate (9.3%) and chase rate (25.3%), Quackenbush managed to finish with a strikeout rate well above league average at 25.2%. His batted ball splits are also not ideal, with a very high line drive rate (26.6%) and a low 37.1 GB%. Joaquin Benoit has a history...

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Josh Sperry

Josh Sperry

Preseason Prep March 17th

Andrelton Simmons - Simmons turned in a huge day at the plate Saturday launching his first homer of the spring while going 3-for-3 on the day. Simmons was terrible last year (worse than the player formerly known as BJ Upton by advanced metrics) but he is just two years out from a 17 homerun season. Simmons' calling card is his ability to make contact, and if he can cut down on his pop-ups and level more swings out there's no reason he shouldn't be able to reach double digit homers again this year. Wandy Rodriguez - It's just spring training but it appears lighting may have struck twice for the Braves after the Aaron Harang experiment last season. He owns...

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Kyle Elfrink

Kyle Elfrink

ADP: The Head-to-Head Decisions by Kyle Elfrink

Anyone who has even been in the same zip code of a fantasy baseball draft has heard of the 'Closer's Run.' It's the moment when someone decides to breach the dam, take that first closer of the draft, and, thus, set off a stampede for other owners to find their 9th inning arm. The 'run' doesn't have a predictable start and end point, but it usually involves four-to-five save monsters going in a stretch of nine-to-ten picks. I was sifting through some of the latest March ADP numbers from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) over the weekend and what caught my attention were some of the remarkable 'mini-runs' that take place involving players who handle the same position. These...

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Schuyler Dombroske

Schuyler Dombroske

Preseason Prep - March 16th, 2015

Ian Desmond is definitely a position where you can get a leg up on your competition these days, because if you include Hanley Ramirez, there are still only 4 guys that clearly should be off the board in the first 100 selections. Of the four, only Desmond is a player that you wouldn't call "brittle", making him the most likely return on investment in the top tier at the position. Desmond has some power upside as well, exhibiting elite batted ball speed (over 106 mph) that could result in a 30 homer season with a bit more elevation in his swing. Unlike the guys that you'd clearly take ahead of him in the first round, he isn't really a threat...

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Fantistics Analysts Twitter Updates

2015 SiriusXM FSTA Fantasy Baseball Draft

I've been fortunate to have fantasy sports in my life. This time of the year, after the extended family is gone and the post holiday blues are about to set in....there's fantasy baseball waiting in the wings. As tradition has...

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