Is Price Worth the Price for Boston?
One of this off season's biggest moves was David Price signing a 7-year $217 million contract with the Red Sox. It's hard to believe this guy is now playing for his fifth team in three seasons. He is once again in the AL East, but the most intriguing piece will be his new park. Last season, Fenway ranked 4th in Park Factor at 1.19 runs above norm. We're most used to seeing Price pitch in the Trop, which was 17th at 0.94, while Comerica was 28th at .90 and the Rogers Centre was 24th at .91. That said, Price has 11 career starts in Fenway Park, typically against solid Red Sox offenses, and posted an impressive 6-1 record with a 1.95 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Fortunately for Price, he is a bit less susceptible to park factors given his high K rate, but we still need to project some more unfavorable bounces this season off the monster. Price dominated in 2015 across the board, particularly when he arrived into the playoff race in Toronto. He posted a 2.22 FIP with a 10.5 K rate over 74.1 innings in Toronto. I wouldn't expect that in Fenway, but Price is poised for another strong year. Fantistics analytical software is projecting a 1.12 WHIP/3.30 ERA and a top 12 finish.
Khris Davis has a new home, and it's not cozy
Khris Davis was traded on Friday, leaving the cozy confines of Miller Park for the spacious O.co Colosseum. Lets start by looking at what Davis did in Milwaukee last season. Overall he hammered the baseball with a 412 average distance on his HRs, and a above average 104 batted ball speed. Additionally his 33% Hard Hit rate, is considered above average. That said the 25% HR/FB rate of last season was considerably higher than where it should have been. Granted his ballpark had something to do with that as Miller Field boasts a HR/FB rate that is 10% higher than the rest of the league parks. On the flip side, he's moving to a ballpark that has a HR/FB rate which is 9% less than the league average. As a heavy flyball hitter (1:1 FB/GB rate) with a sub 70% contact rate, we're no longer looking at a hitter who averaged 30 HRs over a full season of ABs, rather we're looking at a hitter who is likely to drop 20-25% off that pace, with a less than desirable batting average. His current 11th round ADP is no longer a value, and is likely to get pushed back into the 14-15th round.
Hanley Ramirez Moves to First, Assuming He Stays in Boston
There is wild speculation about what the Red Sox will do with Hanley Ramirez. Some are asking that dump him to the highest bidder and eat much of his $88MM contract. But, I think Hanley is a solid bounce-back candidate. It took all of two weeks to realize Hanley was not comfortable in left field, so now that he's moved to first base, I'm hoping he can focus more on what he's paid to do: dominate the batter's box. Hanley dominated in March/April with 10 home runs in his first 21 games. Then after a shoulder injury and a horrendous performance by the Red Sox, he sat out most of the second half and put together a horrid performance all around. The fact is, Hanley has a 129 wRC+ and the largest outlier is last year's 89. True he's no longer the same player that he was from 2007-2010, he's a very low risk buy low candidate given that most people have written him off. Hanley's BABIP last year was .257, well off his career rate of .327. There's some upside here, so be sure to keep a watchful eye on his health during the spring.
Curious Case of Clay Buchholz
In what has seemingly felt like every year, Clay Buchholz had an injury-riddled 2015. Yet still, he looks to be penciled in as the number two starter for the Sox. Buccholz is an intriguing bounce-back candidate in 2016. In 113 innings of work, he posted a 3.26 ERA, which is impressive, but what's better is that his FIP was even more impressive at 2.68. Buchholz increased his K rate from 7.0 in 2014 to 8.5, supported by a strong SwStr%. I'm adding Buchholz as an end of rotation starter because even in limited time, he showed he still has a lot left in the tank.
The Most Stubborn Hitter of All-Time
David Ortiz will go down as the most stubborn player ever, because he absolutely refuses to decline. His wRC+ the last three years: 151, 134, and 138. His age? 37, 38, and 39. I've thought that I had seen the end of Ortiz before. He's had some horrid first halves before turning it on. Ortiz has always had a flare for dramatics, so I would not be shocked if he goes out having yet another productive season for the Sox.
Weight a Second, it's Sandoval!
Pablo Sandoval has lost between 20-22 pounds this winter, according to John Farrell. That was reported on 1/21/16, so who knows if he has put the weight back on since. It sort of feels like we've heard this story before. Sandoval rewarded the Red Sox with his worst career season in 2015. The only place for him to go is up, but still, I think that puts him - at best - in the bottom tier of startable 3B, where it may make more sense to play the matchups instead of starting the same guy. Sandoval pounded the ball into the dirt last year, and he's not going to be legging out many infield singles. For him to have a productive year, he'll need to get the ball in the air more than the 32% he did in 2015 (36.4% career). If we were to block 2015 from memory, Sandoval could still conceivably improve upon his career 116 wRC+ given that he can still take advantage of Fenway's dimensions.
Masahiro Tanaka (SP - NYY): Masahiro Tanaka said on Friday that he "can't really say" if he'll be prepared to start on opening day. I avoided Tanaka in all leagues last year, assuming he was just a ticking time bomb given the uncertainty with his shoulder. Turns out I was sort of right and sort of wrong. His velocity was actually up, but his performance suffered through his 154 innings. It's too early to know where he'll go in drafts, but he's worth a flier late in drafts, but certainly don't draft him with an expectation of a top 15 pitcher. He posted a solid 3.36 SIERA, but struggled more with control and putting batters away. He could return to his 2014 performance following surgery this offseason, but he'll definitely be a risk again throughout the season.
Bryce Harper (OF - WAS): Bryce Harper made the news cycle earlier today, as he was asked what he thought about potentially being MLB's first $400 million player. His response: "don't sell me short." Harper will be one of the first few players off the board this season. My inclination was that he tapered off in the second half of 2015, but that's not true at all. Sure, he didn't keep up his torrid pace and "only" hit 16 second half home runs, but that's an incredible stat for human beings playing baseball. Expect another great year from Harper.
Ian Desmond (SS - FA): Major league baseball will likely have to revisit draft pick compensation, as some people are having a difficult time finding work after declining qualifying offers. Ian Desmond declined the Nationals offer, but still hasn't found work. Desmond turns 30 this year and it wasn't long ago that he was seen as a top option amongst shortstops posting a 128 wRC+ with 21 stolen bases in 2012. He had a forgetful 2015, but surely a team would be willing to take a chance on him if the compensation piece weren't involved. Depending on where Desmond ends up, he makes a great bounceback at the SS position.
Madison Bumgarner (SP - SF): The first Vegas win O/U came out yesterday and the Giants were atop with 90 projected wins. That team will be led by Madison Bumgarner, who I had reservations about in 2015 after his epic post-season run in 2014 - a season where he threw nearly 270 innings. But I was completely wrong because Bumgarner is an animal and put together an even better 2015. At just 26 years old, I expect more of the same now that I've learned my lesson of doubting him.
Yovani Gallardo (SP - FA): The Orioles are closing in on signing Yovani Gallardo to a three year deal, where they'll also have to forfeit a draft pick as compensation. Gallardo may still have the name of a big name pitcher, but he is far, far from that. Despite a respectable 3.42 ERA in 2015, signs are pointing to a much worse 2016 given his 4.00 FIP and 4.59 SIERA. His K rate is so small at 5.91 that it's hard to find. Leave Gallardo to someone else if he ends up in Baltimore, though he might be a spot starter if he ends up in the NL in a favorable park.
Mike Moustakas (3B - KC): Mike Moustakas signed a 2-year $13 million deal with the Royals, a fine reward for his 2015 campaign (finally!). Moose posted a 124 wRC+, well above his career 92. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to figure things out at the plate. Moose has reduces his K rate from 20 to 16 to 15 to 12.4% since 2011. Coupled with an improved BABIP, and you have a solid player. Last year remains the outlier for Moose, but as a former #2 overall pick, I'm more inclined to project similar production than what we've seen historically.
Alex Guerrero (IF/OF - LAD): The Dodgers are shopping Alex Guerrero, who put his name on the map last season showcasing some impressive power early on. But for the year, his slash line was unimpressive at .233/.261/.434. There is still some potential for Guerrero to be serviceable, but he won't be on the Dodgers given their packed infield and outfield. A trade will only improve his fantasy value.
Brandon Belt (1B - SF): The Giants and Brandon Belt reached a $6.2 million agreement, avoiding arbitration. Despite missing time, Belt put together an impressive season with 18 home runs in 137 games. In leagues with daily roster changes, I love using Belt in favorable matchups, usually outside of AT&T Park. Belt has some serious power, but it's tough to put up great numbers with a cavernous home ballpark. Unless, of course, you're Barry Bonds.
Mat Latos (SP - CWS): Mat Latos signed a one-year $3M contract with the White Sox, which seems awfully inexpensive for a 27-year old pitcher that has been serviceable in the past. Rumor has it that Latos has been a distraction in many clubhouses, which in part led to the low dollar contract (along with his 4.95 ERA). Latos may warrant attention in deep leagues, as he was particularly unlucky last year. His FIP and SIERA were 3.72 and 3.88, respectively, along with a 7.7 K rate. Keep an eye on him late in drafts.
Tim Lincecum (SP - FA): It's hard to believe Tim Lincecum can't find a job. I mean, I can believe it, but it doesn't feel that long ago that he put together one of the better four-year stretches in recent history. Lincecum will be coming back from a surgically repaired hip, which won't make a comeback easy for him. As a baseball fan, I hope Lincecum can land a rotation spot somewhere and be serviceable. His numbers don't warrant it, but he was always fun to watch.
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