Well, the NL hot stove continues to plod alone quietly, as usual, as we work up to the winter meetings, likely picking up steam in about a week before the GM’s get together under one roof. Then all hell breaks loose, normally grounded business minds get turned upside down and do ridiculous things like spend $240M on Pujols, or $162M on Carl Crawford, or give Zack Greinke $120M+ for 6yrs+.
Until then we can continue to speculate and talk about the potential fall out of possible deal, because, let’s face it, the WBC qualifying just isn’t captivating baseball fans much. To be constructive I have started looking at hidden value that may still be found for a short time for 2013 drafts. Let’s get it!
Discretely quiet hitting value for 2013 from the NL:
Let’s start considering who may be on the cusp of super stardom or that big breakout year in the NL, could slide in value or be nabbed later in a draft, and could potentially provide early round production. These four guys are all young and talented enough to be top shelf hitters in the NL but still may slide past round 3, 4 or 5 in most standard (non NL-only) leagues. I will target all four in every league I play in 2013 regardless of the format.
- Dexter Fowler, OF, COL – I have been waiting for Fowler to take that final step to uber studdom, get his Ks down and walk up enough to put his OBP up near .400. He made considerable steps in this direction in 2012 and should continue this year as well. Just getting his K% under 20 and his BB% above 14 or so put him on base enough that he will soon see more pitches to hit which should result in a slight jump in his power. I think steady 20+ HR seasons are a little much to ask, but 16-18HR should be is his wheelhouse to go with a similar number of SBs. Double digits in triples and 35-40 doubles should also become standard too, and if he could ever get a full season hitting in front of Tulo and CarGo 100+ runs should come as well.
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARZ – After a decent debut in 2011 and a very good step into a full time starting gig at 1B in 2012 this big right handed hitting first basemen is what I see being along the lines of a Mark Teixeira type hitter. His line last year was .282-82-20-82-18 in 145 games with a second year of double digit BB% and 43 2Bs is a preview of what he should be able to do as time goes on – patience at the plate, great power. If he can bump his FB% and keep his K:BB to 2:1 or less then Tex type stat lines should follow. 2013 should look like .288-89R-31HR-104RBI-16SB if he continues to progress and stays healthy, which puts him into the top 5 NL 1B range, top 10 in MLB.
- Allen Craig, 1B/2B/OF, STL – Not sure I can say enough good things about Craig…borderline man-crush here maybe. But seriously, he is only going to get stronger with regards to his health, better at the plate and more confident hitting around Holliday, Freese and Beltran in 2013. After having 92 RBI in just 119 games and hitting ~.400 with RISP, Craig can likely post 120 in a full season with a .315/.375/.575 triple slash line and 30HR+…those numbers would have won him the NL MVP this year. And on top of that he will still be eligible at 1B and OF for one more year at least as it is likely 1B will become his forever depending on Matt Adams potentially at 1B, Beltran’s health holding up, and Oscar Tavarez’s rise to the big leagues. Either way, Craig will soon be a top 25 overall draft pick and NL MVP candidate in my humble opinion, so if you can jump on the wagon now...
- Carlos Gomez, OF, MIL – Gomez has flashed glimpses at his physical tools and potential, but has never really sustained it for a full season, usually due to sharing starts in the OF. With what looks to be a mostly clear path to a starting gig in center in MIL now (barring a crazy signing or injury) we should see what he can do over 150+ games. Add in the fact he is in his final year before being FA eligible and is a Scott Boras client, I think 2013 will be big for Gomez. Strikeouts and OBP are always the problem here so unless they get fixed a little, odds are his .260 average from 2012 will continue, but 25-35 and 80 runs scored are possible here.
The players above are good examples of players who may not be taken in the first four rounds but could put up close to that level of production. By passing early on guys like Fielder or Tex at 1B for $25+ you could still likely land Craig or Goldschmidt for $10-13 as most teams will be after the big guns for big bucks and these two will easily be top 10 at 1B, maybe top 7 in overall production.
A similar strategy in the OF could yield savings to be spent elsewhere as Fowler and his ability to fill the entire stat sheet while not being a real liability anywhere (other than a little light in home runs) will push him past other OFs like Bourne, Pence, Bruce and their ~$20 price tags on my draft sheet with his likely cost around $9-11 (after being had for $1 in many leagues in 2012). Having an outfield made up of say Fowler-Craig-Morse for a total of about $35-40 would give you steady and solid production while saving enough cash to even overpay for a second top tier starter or reach a little in price in a shallow talent position like 2B or C.
Some other guys I like in 2013 to achieve but come at mid round value or less:
- Tyler Colvin, 1B/OF, COL – Assuming Colvin gets the starting job at 1B.
- Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, CIN – Assuming Frazier also gets the starting job at 3B.
- Michael Morse, 1B/OF, WAS – Morse has a huge power and potent line up, easily forgotten at draft time.
Some Other News from the NL:
Former first half hero Bryan LaHair was released by the Cubbies and ended up signing a deal with the Softbank Hawks in Japanese Pacific League. After hitting .286 with 14HR and 30RBI in the first half and making the ASG for the NL he proceeded to bomb out at .202 with 2 HR and 10RBI in the second half of the season. Young stud Anthony Rizzou coming up and taking the first base starting role obviously didn’t help but LaHair pretty much did nothing to keep the job. A stereotypical “Quad-A” type of hitter, LaHair likely has found a permanent home in the leagues in Japan.
Somehow we have reports saying up to four teams (BOS, TB, HOU and PHI) have contacted Lance Berkman about a possible 15thseaosn from the Big Puma. After an MVP calibre season and World Series title in 2011 Berkman suffered through an injury plagued 32 game 2012 season, after which most people expected him to pack it in and call it a career. Berkman is currently the assistant coach of the Rice baseball team and doesn’t seem overly anxious to leave that post unless he is blown away by an offer.
Rants and Ramblings:
Mark Beuhrle who recently got shipped to the Blue Jays voiced his displeasure recently:
"I'm upset with how things turned out in Miami," Buehrle said in a statement. "Just like the fans in South Florida, I was lied to on multiple occasions. But I'm putting it behind me and looking forward to moving on with my career."
The list of people Jeff Loria and Larry Beinfest have lied to while running the Fish is immeasurable…
Imagine what sort of damage Stanton will do to baseballs this year as he takes out his anger about what his crooked, deceitful, lying, scum of the earth owner and his cronies have done to his team...and how be builds his case for free agency over the next few years counting down the days until he can get out of the prison known as Jeff Loria’s team.
Catch me on twitter @CanuckHoppy