MLB

MLB Analysis: Overspending in 2011

| by Hardball Times

Overspending for Players in 2011

Ted Williams once said, “If I was being paid $30,000 a year, the very least I could do was hit .400.” This quote is really amazing to me because it not only shows the kind of character this Hall of Fame hitter had, but it also draws attention to the fact that $30,000 was an extraordinary amount of money back then. Most Americans could barely make it on this kind of scratch today.

We are too busy with our iPhones and Hummers and blinded by our LED 3D TVs to recognize that the paper in our pockets is becoming more and more worthless. To me, that is also what’s beautiful about being an American. We live in a time where information is everywhere. Anything you want, you can have. No luxury is too great or too small if you have the means to obtain it. Spending drives the economy, and likewise, spending will drive your fantasy team. As we enter a new year and a new time of life, let’s let the nation’s economy handle itself for the day and concentrate on better understanding our fantasy baseball economy.

Since every fantasy writer in the business likes to generate lists of “value guys,” “waiver wire gems,” and “bargain bin all stars,” I will go against the grain, channel that American spirit, and give you my list of guys on which to overspend. These are players I feel are so undervalued by the masses that you would be foolish not to pay more for their services.

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2011 Overspending List (no particular order)

The Stud: Ryan Braun. He is currently being drafted about 13th overall according to Mock Draft Central. He’s been drafted as high as seventh. I argue that I would draft him fifth behind Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and Joey Votto. I believe in Tulow, but not quite enough to rank him ahead of Braun. Carlos Gonzalez is the best bet to go 30/30 next year, but I feel his strikeouts and free swinging will make that batting average dip eventually.

Here are the facts, Ryan Braun has the eighth-most home runs of any major leaguer in history through his first four seasons. He had a down year and still posted an elite line of 101/25/103/14/.304. He is the picture of consistency, and I believe that his home run to fly ball ratio of 14 percent was an aberration. Once you examine his second-half split, you see the reversal back to 17 percent which is closer to his career average. The speed dropped a little and so did his stolen base opportunities, but double-digit steals should still be expected. The Brewers will be better in 2011, and assuming Prince Fielder stays put, Ryan Braun is my favorite for National League MVP, bad boy.

The Question Mark: Madison Bumgarner. The fact that this guy is getting drafted after Paul Maholm on average, makes me sick. Guys like Jhoulis Chacin, Randy Wells, Tim Stauffer are all being taken ahead of this young gun. I can’t wrap my brain around that information.

Madison is not going to be a 200-strikeout pitcher, but he’ll pound the zone with a fastball that is regaining velocity (up from an avg 89.2 to 91.3), a plus slider and change, and his newly added curveball. He has elite control with 2.2 walks per nine innings which should help him keep his WHIP down. Only Verlander, Billingsley, Lincecum, and Weaver were better than Bumgarner through September/October according to Fangraph’s WAR data. He’ll pitch as a four on a World Series winning rotation and has the make-up of a future ace. I personally love the fact that he struggled in the minors, dealt with it, and regained his top prospect status. Guys with those intangibles make for great pitchers who are great for many years.

The Guilty Pleasure: Mike Moustakas. I know I’m going to get flack for this selection in my overspend list, but I wanted to include him because he’s not being drafted at all. I understand that the Royals are in no hurry to expose him to the terrors that await him in that line up, but he will press them to give him a chance at the hot corner after a coasting through 100+ at-bats in Omaha. Whether the Royals wait until June 1 is not important. If you are in a deep league with a decent bench or any kind of keeper league, I would not let Moustakas slip off your radar as he’ll cost much more in free agent bidding or waiver priority.

He has an extremely large ceiling, well worth a last pick. Dismiss his line 94/36/124/.293 through Double-A and Triple-A in 2010 which is quite impressive. Please concentrate on his MLE’s of 72/25/95/.289. Only rivaled by Dominic Brown in all the minors last year, these MLE’s are stellar and point to the readiness of his bat. Thanks to Alex Gordon and Scott Boras we’ll have to wait but get your popcorn ready this guy has a chance to be huge.

The Ace in the Sleeve: Max Scherzer. There’s lots to like about Max Scherzer. He has two differently colored eyes. He throws a great fastball that averaged at 93.2 mph last year. He faced adversity and became a better pitcher (see Bumgarner). After a stint with the Mud Hens, Scherzer returned to the Tigers rotation with some of the most dominant stuff in all of baseball. His ERA of 2.74 and dominance of 10.17 (k/9) after the recall made for many a chin to drop. He is a big, strong 26-year-old right hander. His raw skills have never really been in question, but his consistency has. His WHIP will creep up at times, but all signs point to a 200+ strikeout season with a 3.50 or so ERA. He is being taken as a 210th pick, and my amazingly bold prediction is that he strikes out more hitters than that draft position. Don’t be caught looking.

Here’s my final soapbox. The real problem we face as our society has grown older, we have lost our wisdom. Ted Williams had it together. He understood that with great amounts of money comes greater amounts of responsibility. A fiscally responsible fantasy manager will always beat a whimsical free spender, but a fiscally responsible, whimsically wise spender is the greatest of them all.

Ben Pritchett can be reached with any questions, comments, gripes, considerations at [email protected]

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