Three Up Three Down – Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana signed a 3 year $60 mil deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, after 8 MLB seasons with the Cleveland Indians.  It was the Los Angeles Dodgers that signed him as an amateur free agent back in 2004, before trading him to Cleveland for Casey Blake, near the 2008 trade deadline.  He started out as a catcher, but by 2014 he would no longer play the position, moving to 1B/DH.

With the addition on Edwin Encarnacion last offseason, the Indians felt comfortable letting Santana walk in free agency.¬† They also just signed Yonder Alonso for 2 years and $19 mil, a bargain compared to Santana’s price tag. Cleveland also has two 1B prospects in Bobby Bradley and Nellie Rodriguez.¬† Both are big HR and SO guys.

Philly and Santana were not exactly a perfect match, but they worked things out.  The Phillies already have a future 1B in Rhys Hoskins, who took the MLB by storm this past summer, hitting 18 HRs in 212 PA.  That was a 58 HR pace!  Hoskins will turn 25 before the 2018 MLB seasons throws its first pitch and now has to share an OF with Nick Williams (24), Odubel Herrera (26) and Aaron Altherr (27).  There is also Tommy Joseph (26), who is likely to get his ABs at 1B.  The Phillies either have a trade in mind, or they just stunted the growth of some of their top prospects who might never reach their full potential.  Only time will tell.

Overall, the switch-hitting Santana has turned in a .363 OBP in nearly 4600 plate appearances since establishing himself as a Major League regular back in 2011, averaging 153 games played and 24 homers per season along the way. One would think that a move to a much more hitter-friendly environment, Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, should help to improve his power output as well (though his .196 ISO in that time is already plenty strong). РMLB Trade Rumors

Let’s take a look at how Carlos Santana compares to other 1B and the rest of the league over the past two seasons. We will look at HRs, ISO, wOBA, OBP & BB%. When sorted by each category, we will find Santana and then list the players ranked 3 spots above and below him.

Home Runs

Of the 22 qualified 1B, according to FanGraphs, Santana ranks 10th over the last two seasons in total home runs with 57.  The average total is 51.2 with a high of 80 (Edwin Encarnacion) and a low of 18 (Joe Mauer).

$92 Paul Goldschmidt 60
$66 Jose Abreu 58
$19 Wil Myers 58
$31 Carlos Santana 57
$75 Miguel Cabrera 54
$19 Hanley Ramirez 53
$3 Ryan Zimmerman 51

*2018 Salary

Zimmerman’s 51 HRs for $3 is the highest $/HR at 1B – 17.¬† Goldschmidt ranks last at .65.¬† Santana ranks 10th at 1.84.

16 of the 48 qualified hitters with 50 home runs over the last two years are 1B eligible.

There are 131 qualified bats according to FanGraphs.  Santana ranks 32nd in HRs since 2016.

ISO

Santana ranks 9th of 22 at 1B.

Only 7 1B eligible players have more XBH than Santana over the last two years.

Santana ranks 30/131 eligible bats in the MLB since 2016.

The Phillies new 1B ranks 25th overall in XBH during his final two years with the Indians.

wOBA

Carlos Santana ranks 10th in wOBA at 1B.

He ranks 31st out of 131 eligible bats at all positions.

OBP

Santana ranks 9th in OBP at 1B.

He ranks 31st out of 131 eligible bats across all positions.

BB%

Carlos Santana ranks 7th in BB% since 2016.

He ranks 10th in the MLB with Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista being the only non 1B eligible.

When looking at these five categories and focusing on just 1B, Santana ranks very similarly to Goldschmidt, Abreu, Cabrera & Belt.  When you take it into the league, of 1B that cost at least $20 and have scored a total of 1,000+ fantasy points over the past two seasons, Santana has the 2nd highest fantasy points per dollar, behind Belt, while Goldschmidt & Cabrera sit at the bottom.

 

Every team’s most valuable one dollar player

Clayton Kershaw went for $117 — or 23.4% of a total team budget– at auction and was totally worth it. He’s that good. But there are a bunch of other players on the opposite end of the cost spectrum who have been good as well. Not Kershaw good, but good. And at $1, they’ve proven to be steals.

The cool thing about dollar players is that the team who nominated them can bask in all the credit. It’s not like a $20 player where five teams were in on the bidding but only one won and gets to look smart.

Here’s a quick look at each team’s best currently-rostered $1 player, starting from the top of our current standings and working down…

TEAM CANADA: SP Martin Perez – 273.5 points, SP53

Getting a borderline top-50 starting pitcher for a buck is just unreal value. His numbers aren’t particularly good though. He’s striking out just 5.43 batters per nine, walking 4.21, and has posted a FIP/xFIP slash of 4.39/4.59. Basically, he’s been super lucky and he’s getting by without particularly good stuff.

But hey, he costs a buck! As of this post, first place Team Canada has only started him three times, so he’s clearly not being relied on too heavily, which is exactly what you want for a guy like Perez.

HUSTLE LOYALTY RESPECT: LF/RF Seth Smith, 228.5 points, OF62

The Mariners’ platoon outfielder was the fourth-to-last player auctioned and at just $1, has rewarded Hustle Loyalty Respect handsomely. Smith has been in HLR’s lineup 14 times to date and has hit at a rate of 4.88 points per game in those opportunities, which is a better than league average clip. He’s a really good bench option.

TRUMPA LOOMPAS: 2B/3B/LF/RF Brandon Drury, 244.4 points, 2B18/3B22

Brandon Drury has thus far been one of the best values in the league. Not only has he hit the hell out of the ball, but he can play three positions. At the absolute worst, he’s a flexible bench player capable of being deployed on days where better players are out. But¬†the Loomps have started him 30 times this year, so he’s played his way into a key role.

Having said that, he’s only hit at a 2.68 points per game rate over the last two weeks. Even if he cools though, he’s still been worth every bit of that dollar investment and with all that positional eligibility, he can still deliver value even if he hits at right around replacement levels.

TBD: 3B Jake Lamb, 312 points, 3B11

Jake Lamb has been on my prospect radar for a while now, so it’s cool to see him getting playing time and making the most of it. For just a buck, TBD has gotten an every day third baseman that is currently outscoring Todd Frazier, Miguel Sano, Adrian Beltre, and Evan Longoria.

Like his Diamondbacks teammate Drury above, Lamb is certainly one of the best $1 buys and one of the better values of any dollar amount leaguewide.

TEAM HYDRA: SS Zack Cozart, 235.3 points, SS13

The shortstop position is no longer as weak as it was, so coming into this year there were a few savvy teams who opted to punt the position knowing that they could come away with a good option for cheap instead of paying a position premium. Hydra didn’t necessarily do that, as they dropped $23 on Marcus Semien at auction, but Cozart made him expendable and their team is better for it.

Cozart won’t wow you most weeks, but at such a negligible cost, he’s proved a really valuable piece to a team vying for a playoff spot.

BEACH BUM: 1B/LF, Hyun Soo Kim, 96.9 points, 1B62

Okay, I realize this looks bad. The Orioles’ international signee has barely played and, in fact, Dan just scooped him up from free agency after the owner who won him at auction opted to cut bait. But the reason he’s here is twofold.

First, there isn’t really a better option on this team. And second, if there’s one owner in this league who I think is capable of recognizing a potentially valuable player that can be had for free and then have the patience to sit on him, it’s Dan. Kim hits when he plays, it’s just a matter of opportunities. On this roster, there’s a good chance he’ll just linger until those opportunities present themselves, at which point value should follow.

THE WILFRED BRIMLEY FIGHTING DIABEETUSES: 2B/3B/SS Danny Espinosa, 172.9 points, SS27

Nothing to see here, move along.

THE FOUNDATION: SS Jean Segura, 298.3 points, SS8

Jean Segura has cooled off considerably from his hot start. Over the last 21 days, he’s been only the 31st ranked shortstop and is hitting at a below replacement level points per game clip. But the first few weeks to his season were insane, illustrating the potential that’s here. You could argue that Segura is the biggest reason The Foundation is 4-4 and not below .500, and in that regard he was definitely a dollar well spent.

WE TALK FANTASY SPORTS: SP Ubaldo Jimenez, 154 points, SP125

 

 


WHO’S YOUR HADDY?: RP Addison Reed, 81.7 points, RP24

Admittedly, it’s weird choosing a reliever. But the only other viable option here was Lonnie Chisenhall, and I actually like Reed more. I’m not a big believer in spending big to build a bullpen, so Reed is pretty much exactly what you want: a cheap guy that performs comparably to guys who are paid well. As a top-25 reliever, he’s tremendous value at a position where spending a lot doesn’t seem advisable.

LONG BALL TO LF: SP Mike Foltynewicz, 116 points, SP143

Mike Foltynewicz has only started six games and he hasn’t been particularly good overall, but four of those starts were quite good. Two of them were toxic. The former top prospect is young and still developing, so you need to be cautious about deploying him. In other words, if you’re using him as anything more than your emergency seventh starter, you’re probably not going to fare too well. But for a buck, I really like the risk and the potential for reward.

ROCKY MTN OYSTERS: 3B/LF Adonis Garcia, 91.1 points, 3B58

Nope.

CAPITAL CITY IRONMEN: LF/RF Michael Saunders, 304.1 points, OF24

Finally, it appears Michael Saunders is healthy. That’s always been his bugaboo. When on the field, he’s always performed well, though right now he’s experiencing a true renaissance. And at just 29-years-old, his low cost and great production suggests plenty of future surplus value as well.

IN LINE 4 THE WIN: N/A

This team does not have a single $1 player on it. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any good values. Just no good values for a buck.

SENIOR SQUIDS: N/A

Um… is this a trend? Remember, we’re going in standings order. Suffice to say, if you do not have a $1 player on your roster, period, you will lose. Let this be a lesson to you.

PRESEASON DOUBLE STUFFS: 1B John Jaso, 235.6 points, 1B29

John Jaso rules. Like Saunders above, he’s always been a really good player, he’s just struggled to stay healthy and put full seasons together. To date, his on-base percentage is a cool .369 and he’s a .362 guy for his career, so he’s basically just doing what he does. He lacks the power you want at 1B, probably, but when you’re walking a lot and barreling up base hits, you’ll take it. In fact, it’s the lack of power that makes guys like Jaso sneaky valuable in this league.

While teams are targeting the big home run hitters because they’re capable of dropping 30 point games, guys like Jaso, who will just quietly put up above average weeks without the long balls, will slip through the cracks.

Musing on positional scarcity and age…

I always feel compelled at the beginning of these posts to remind the rest of the league: I swear, I’m not trying to sway your personal valuations or opinions. I just want to riff on fantasy baseball. If I happen to use a player on your team as an example and view him unfavorably, oops. I would hope we’re all capable of coming to our own conclusions. It’d be pretty boring if we all had exactly the same valuations.

So, having said that…¬†how valuable are good-not-great¬†players at super top heavy positions? Or positions that aren’t even top heavy, but rather mediocre all throughout?

Two positions immediately jump to mind here, and that is catcher and shortstop. Let’s look at¬†shortstops.

Through nearly three full weeks, here are your top five overall scorers with the salary they went for at auction:

shortstops
Carlos Correa was our league’s highest paid shortstop at $81, so it’s nice that he’s pictured here. He was also the fourth highest paid hitter in the league, which means he’s being paid to be an absolutely, unquestioned transcendent talent and fantasy producer.

The obvious thing that jumps out is that four shortstops who were practically free either at auction or in our minor league draft currently sit atop the landscape at the position. In fact, Trevor Story, Jean Segura, Aledmys Diaz, and Eugenio Suarez cost just 11.1% of what Correa costs combined.

Granted, we’re only 19 days into our fantasy schedule. But our regular season is 148 days long, so we’re already over 12% of the way through the season. No one would be surprised if Correa ends up as his position’s best producer by the end of the season, but what we have so far shines an interesting¬†light on the shortstop group. It has paid to not pay for these guys.

Behind Correa in terms of salary at shortstop are Xander Bogaerts ($58), Corey Seager ($54), and Troy Tulowitzki ($46). Bogaerts ranks ninth in scoring, Seager ranks 28th, and Tulowitzki is 29th.

For the sake of argument, let’s just look at those three guys, whose average salary is $52.70, or $53 to simplify.¬†Of course, no one went for $53 at auction, but we did have¬†Francisco Liriano go for $54 and a couple¬†go for $52: Kyle Schwarber and Edwin Encarnacion. Some big names and reliable fantasy producers that cost in the mid-to-high¬†$40 range: Cole Hamels, Justin Upton, George Springer, Sonny Gray, Chris Davis, Jose Altuve.

Hypothetically, if that list of players played the same position as Bogaerts, Seager, and Tulowitzki, would they have gone for less? I’d argue not. There are pitchers mixed in, so the positional view is wonky, but what if the shortstops were left fielders instead? Is Seager getting $54 to play the outfield? Hell, right fielder Matt Kemp cost $11. If Seager played the same spot, are you really paying him $43 more? Go look at Kemp’s last two years worth of stats before answering, because they’re¬†likely to be better than you think.

In terms of having ever accomplished anything worth banking on, only Tulo has done it out of this group for more than a single season, but his age and injury concerns chew up some of his value.

The argument I’m making is that Bogaerts and Seager had “being a shortstop” baked pretty heavily into their price. Age was baked in there too, I’m sure, but whatever. Bogaerts was the top scoring shortstop in our format a year ago, so good for him and all, but Jhonny Peralta ($7) was number two and Brandon Crawford ($14) was number three. Peralta being hurt to start the year is a wrinkle, but those guys got pretty heavily punished for not being 23-years-old and presumably keepable for a decade. Maybe age was an even bigger factor than position?

Speaking of Bogaerts and 2015: he scored 810.5 points last year and yes, he led the way for shortstops. But compared to all other hitters, he ranked 55th. The two guys below him: Nick Markakis ($4) and Brandon Belt ($12). The two guys above him: Evan Longoria ($20) and David Peralta ($17).

So you could have literally bought the four hitters directly surrounding Bogaerts in 2015 net points and still had $5 left over!

Also, while Bogaerts was the 55th highest scoring hitter last year, he’s the 17th highest paid hitter this year. He’s also not priced to be immune from greed and his salary is going to grow by $2 a year. So… yikes.

Just as easily as it is to envision that $81 Correa being tops at short in August, it’s not crazy to see Bogaerts and Seager in the top five or even three. But it also seems fair to suggest that even if these guys lead the charge at their position, they’ll come out behind in the greater landscape of hitters at large.

Last year, Bogaerts averaged 40.525 points per week as the top shortstop. The 16th highest scoring shortstop, Erick Aybar ($3), averaged 27.325 points per week. So a 13.2 weekly edge between the best possible “starting” shortstop and the worst. (I grant you, this is a bit primitive. It assumes the top 16 scorers are spread across each of the 16 teams, it ignores platoons, guys got hurt and that screws up their net output, etc. I get it.)

Crush Davis, who you’ll recall went for less money and was just the second best right fielder (but also has 1B eligibility) behind MVP Bryce Harper, averaged 55.835 points per week. Kole¬†Calhoun ($10), the 16th best RF, averaged 38.805 points per week, a difference of 17.03 between second best and 16th.

So, through that lens, you’re better off just having the better overall player in Davis than you are having the top guy at a weak position. Having Davis instead of Bogaerts, again in this admittedly simplified example, gives you a 4+ point weekly edge over the worst possible starter at each¬†position.

Starting Davis/Aybar gets you 83.16 a week. Starting Bogaerts/Calhoun gets you 79.33. Also, the total cost of Davis and Aybar is lower than the cost of Bogaerts and Calhoun by $19, meaning that, at least theoretically, not overpaying for perceived positional scarcity affords you more resources to help your team.

Personally, I like to view players across their broader peer groups: pitchers against other pitchers, hitters against other hitters. Yes, a player may be the third best shortstop or the fifth best catcher, but that ranking is not interchangeable across positions.

Buster Posey is so good, he does not have a peer group at the catcher¬†position. He is a tier, the two tiers below him are filled with chirping crickets and sawdust, and then other guys start falling in line after that. Yeah, you’d like to have whoever is second or third best, but if you have to settle for that 16th guy, it probably won’t be overly painful.¬†The difference is negligible.

2016 Auction Review – Beach Bum

Beach bum

BB

Future President Beachler’s team here is well rounded out as you can see. He found value as he always does in those, who by most in fantasy baseball, are considered old. He mixes together hitting and pitching really well and has a very flexible roster. I particularly love the value found in Yu Darvish at $29 and Albert Pujols at $21.

Hitting – Good

Matt Carpenter and Ryan Braun stand out as guys who you can figure to be leaders at their respective position. Nobody would be surprised by Brian Dozier or Pujols having an up-year and sneaking into that same tier. Dan’s team does not have that superstar on offense, but his offense is solid. He did¬†not punt at any of the nine positions and has several guys he can stick at the two utility spots with ease. The missing piece here taking his rating from Very Good down to Good¬†is the lack of a star hitter that should carry week to week. Balance is great, but the entire line up could finish ranking in the 6-10 slots at their positions and that might not be enough.

Pitching – Very Good

Gerrit Cole is¬†the highest paid player on the roster is a worthy choice as he should be a great number one starter. Francisco Liriano is one of my favorites. Yu Darvish was a bargain if he comes back healthy in 2016, and Tanaka is good when he is pitching. His top four is enviable by most teams in this league I¬†would¬†bet. Andrew Cashner seems like a quality bounce back candidate. Dan’s staff is held from a rating of greatness over the bullpen. If Dan punted anywhere it is here. He spent five dollars on three guys. While they could all be serviceable, he is likely banking on streaming relievers in hopes of finding something good.

Depth – Great

All of Dan’s¬†hitters have a backup that is above replacement value. Perhaps if Vogt gets injured his catching situation gets a tad hairy.¬†Overall having Evan Longoria, Matt Holliday, Mark Teixeira, and Dexter Fowler on the bench is a lot of fire power. Adam Lind and Joe Mauer are good in utility spots if they are called upon. Dan’s flexibility with guys like Carpenter qualifying at two spots¬†and¬†his outfielders overlapping well, makes the Beach Bum squad¬†potentially scary as a competitor.

Why 2016 would be bad…

It is not unthinkable that both of Darvish and Tanaka do not pitch well in 2016. While Tommy John surgery has not been as scary as it was in the past. It is still a concern. Toss in ideas like perhaps Cashner has pitched his best already, or punting bullpen is a poor idea, and things could get middling or even sour quickly. Maybe baseball is a young mans game and Dan’s older roster just doesn’t hold up.

Why 2016 would be good…¬†

In short, Dan’s team is a candidate for being¬†a contender in 2016. His roster allows him to suffer some unforeseen blows, plus has upside in previously injured player returning to stardom. He just has so many choices to make that make a lot of sense. Depth might be the best feature, and it just fits into this team so beautifully that even if nobody gets hurt, the potential route to maximize the entire roster is clear here.