Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Dear Mr. Fantasy: Let's hold it on Harper

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

It's Bryce Harper's world, and we're all just living in it.

That's the impression I get, anyway, when I open up the mailbag. You know how most 19-year-olds think the world revolves around them? Well, the world really does revolve around Harper right now, at least as far as Fantasy Baseball goes. He's all anyone cares to ask about.

Not bad for a player with a handful games under his belt.

By now, everyone knows he's worth owning in Fantasy. Players with his level of talent only come along every 10 years or so, so if he lives up to his potential right away, you'll obviously want to be the one who benefits.

But now that you either have him or you don't, what's next?

Perhaps instead of focusing on what he could do, we should concentrate on how likely he is to do it and what exactly "it" looks like.

You know, specifics: numbers, rankings, dates, etc.

It's a guessing game, sure, but it's the only way of determining what his trade value might be ... and whether you should be buying or selling.

Will Bryce Harper be a top-30 outfielder from this point forward? -- @Nux16 (via Twitter)

SW: I like it. No beating around the bush for you. Just out with it already: How good is Harper?

Of course, it's a crystal-ball type question, and since I don't actually have a crystal ball, I can't offer more than a guess in response.

But I can base that guess on historical precedent. It's pretty easy to do considering, at age 19, Harper is already part of a select group. Since 1985 -- you know, Marty McFly and all of that -- only nine players have gotten a significant number of at-bats (100 or more) at age 19 or younger: Ken Griffey Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Renteria, Andruw Jones, Adrian Beltre, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton and Mike Trout.

Fantasy studs all around, with the first three most likely going to the Hall of Fame. But that's not the point I'm trying to make here. We're not assessing Harper for the future, which figures to be bright, but for right now. And even with that elite group setting the standard, the "right now" isn't looking so hot.

Together, those nine combined to hit .258 in their age-19 seasons, which doesn't sound so bad, but if you remove Renteria and his .309 mark, the cumulative batting average drops to .244. Renteria's uninspiring .757 OPS also led the group, and as far as homers go, only Griffey reached double digits.

Most Added Players (as of 5/2)
Player % increase
1. Scott Downs, RP, Angels 45
2. Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles 37
3. Joe Saunders, SP, D-Backs 35
4. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros 33
5. Jason Hammel, SP, Orioles 29
6. Bryan LaHair, 1B, Cubs 28
7. Mike Trout, OF, Angels 25
8. Drew Smyly, SP, Tigers 25
9. Tommy Milone, SP, Athletics 19
10. Mike Aviles, SS, Red Sox 18

Now, you could argue Harper is a special talent who transcends all historical precedent, and against the vastness of all baseball history, that may be true. But against the likes of Griffey? A-Rod? Upton? Come on ...

Generally speaking, you don't get called up to the majors at age 19 unless your talent is other-worldly, so even though Harper is a once-in-a-generation-type prospect, on this list, he's just another guy.

You could argue, perhaps, that age 19 is an arbitrary cutoff and unfair basis for comparison given that so few players reach the big leagues by then. But even if I expand the study to include age-20 rookies, the list of significant Fantasy contributors doesn't last long. It's basically Jason Heyward, Giancarlo Stanton and ... well, that's about it. I suppose Miguel Cabrera and his .793 OPS were useful enough in 2003, but his arrival didn't exactly turn the Fantasy standings upside-down.

Face it: 19-year-olds aren't legitimate big-leaguers. They may benefit from the experience in the long run, but considering their bodies haven't even fully developed yet, they can't contribute on the level of everyone else. They're not even really "men," except by legal definition, which is why only the best of the best get so much as a look. You have to go back to the days of Mel Ott to find a 19-year-old "stud," and I'm pretty sure no one was playing Fantasy back then.

So if, at the height of the hoopla, you can find someone willing to buy into Harper as a top-30 outfielder, that might be the most value you get out of him in a non-keeper league. Even if he sticks around all season, which is hardly guaranteed, I'm thinking a .265 batting average and 16-18 homers is his best-case scenario.

In my 10-team league, we keep only the best nine players, with no picks involved. Does trading for Bryce Harper or Mike Trout make sense? -- @alansmafra (via Twitter)

SW: Keeper leagues, of course, are a different story, because if the fairest comparison for his eventual ceiling is those same nine players -- Ken Griffey Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Renteria, Andruw Jones, Adrian Beltre, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton and Mike Trout -- you'll obviously want to lock up Harper for a long, long time.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

Of course, because your league doesn't require you to forfeit draft picks for your keepers, the established studs are in play as well, and gauging an up-and-comer like Harper's status relative to theirs isn't the easiest task. Still, you're keeping a full nine players, so any player projected to go in the first nine rounds next year is a worthwhile keeper in your format. Considering where Brett Lawrie, Eric Hosmer and Dustin Ackley all went as sophomores this year, I'm thinking Harper will meet that criteria regardless of what he does this year.

Because you don't actually have Harper yet, though, you'd also have to weigh the cost trading for him, which I'm guessing would be pretty steep, for all the reasons I've outlined here. I'm also guessing it wouldn't be worth it, for all the reasons I outlined in the first question. If you have a legitimate shot at contending this season, you wouldn't want to forfeit it for just one keeper.

Trout, on the other hand, might just be your golden opportunity to have your cake and eat it too. His pedigree suggests he's nearly as promising as Harper long-term, but he doesn't come with quite the same hype even though, from what both the Angels and Nationals have intimated, he's more likely to stick around all season. He's also more than a year older than Harper and has already taken some of his lumps in the majors.

Trout just seems to be better equipped to make a quick transition to the majors. While I have Harper at a .265 batting average and 16-18 homers this year, I'll pencil in Trout for a .280 batting average, 15-16 homers and about 20 steals, which is the difference between a hot-hand type and a legitimate every-week starter in mixed leagues.

Plus, I suspect he'll be cheaper on the trade market. If you can trade an Adam Jones-type outfielder or Johnny Cueto-type pitcher for him, it's worth it just for the keeper potential.

I have Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales in a 16-team league and can't seem to trade either. Right now, they can't get consistent at bats. What should my expectations be for them? -- @tile11 (via Twitter)

SW: In a 12-team league, I'd consider both droppable right now. It has nothing to do with their ability or even expected level of production. They're simply not getting the at-bats they need. The Angels have too many movable parts, and they're too often the odd men out. Maybe it'll change; maybe not. But in the meantime, you shouldn't feel obligated to stick with them if you see something promising on the waiver wire.

Follow us, Like us, Join us
Want more? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and Google+ and follow us on Twitter for additional insight while interacting with a community geared toward Fantasy Baseball.

Of course, that's in a 12-team league. A 16-team league most likely doesn't have anything of real value on the waiver wire -- maybe a Todd Helton, maybe a Denard Span, but nothing that will make or break your Fantasy team. In that case, you're probably better off sticking the higher-upside players -- in this case, Trumbo and Morales -- and hoping for the best.

After all, you know they'll produce if they get the opportunity. Trumbo is already making noise with part-time at-bats, and Morales' track record is too impressive to ignore. As desperate as the Angels are for offense right now, you can still hold out hope that they'll eventually just say phooey on it all, bump players like Vernon Wells to the bench once and for all and proceed with and the hitters who can do the most damage.

And even if that doesn't happen, hey, it could be worse. I mean, 400-450 at-bats from them is still better than 600 from someone like Chone Figgins or Michael Brantley.

In my 10-team Head-to-Head league, I gave up Madison Bumgarner, Freddie Freeman and Yadier Molina for Matt Kemp. -- @willmcclintock1 (via Twitter)

SW: And you should be feeling just as good about it now as I presume you were when you sent that tweet.

This is the way to do it in shallower leagues: Trade quantity for quality. Players like Bumgarner, Freeman and Molina are obviously good and obviously must-own, but in leagues with only 10 teams and only one starter at each position (as is usually the case in Head-to-Head), the Freemans and Molinas of the world are easily replaceable.

Think about it. Freeman is obviously a great hitter with plenty of upside and, in the context of all of major league baseball, a legitimate asset. And that's how the average Fantasy owner thinks of him. But in a league with only 10 first base slots available, is he really all that special? At the very least, wouldn't Miguel Cabrera, Paul Konerko, Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, Joey Votto and Prince Fielder rank ahead of him, putting him on the bottom end of the top 10? And if he's on the bottom end of the 10 first basemen worth starting in your league, isn't he more of a liability than an asset? Isn't he one of the players holding you back rather than setting you apart? Pure logic says so even if your baseball instincts say otherwise.

Why, then, would you be the least bit resistant to trading him?

Don't Just Play, Play to Win!
Fantasy Baseball Today Be sure to catch Fantasy Baseball 360 LIVE at 5 p.m. ET every weekday to dominate your Fantasy leagues. Our writers will have the latest news, analysis and roster trends each afternoon.
Fantasy Baseball TodayCheck out the latest episode!

The same goes for Molina. Yes, he has power now and is off to a great start, but wouldn't you still rather have Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, Brian McCann, Matt Wieters, Buster Posey or Joe Mauer starting for you at catcher? If he's in the bottom half of the potential starting options in your league, he's not all that critical to your team's success.

Bumgarner, on the other hand, probably is. He has distinguished himself enough at the starting pitcher position over the last two years that you may not be able to replace his production without making another trade. Still, he's not going to set your team apart the way Kemp can. Kemp is the best player in Fantasy, and when you have a chance to get the best player in Fantasy in a league this shallow, you have to do it.

Why? "Good" doesn't cut it when every starter at every position on every team is good. You need the best of the best wherever you can get it. Make this trade, pick up a Russell Martin or Wilson Ramos at catcher and a Bryan LaHair or Chris Davis at first base, and work from there.

Shoot, in a 10-team league, you might already have better options than that on your bench.

Coco Crisp or Nate Schierholtz for rest of season? Crisp would cost me FAAB dollars in my 20-team Head-to-Head league. -- @Savannahseniors (via Twitter)

SW: FAAB dollars or not, Crisp is without question the way to go here.

It's not that I'm so high on him as a player. It's just that I trust him to play every day and to perform competently enough that you won't regret wasting a roster spot on him.

Just look at last year. His numbers were hardly off the charts by his standards -- his .693 OPS was actually the second-lowest of his career -- and yet he ranked 28th among outfielders in standard Head-to-Head scoring.

I'd say that's an asset in a 20-team league.

And because it's a 20-team league, you really can't afford to gamble the way you could in a shallower league. Even if you think Schierholtz is on the verge of a career season given his hot start, his minor-league track record and his 28 years of age, he has a long history of mediocrity and part-time at-bats in the majors. If your hunch is wrong, which is still the more-likely scenario at this point, you won't get another shot at a player like Crisp.

Shoot, in a league this deep, by the time you realize Schierholtz is still just a light-hitting platoon player, you won't find anything on the waiver wire.

I'm in a 10-team Head-to-Head mixed league, and my pitchers are Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy, Philip Humber, Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson, Ross Detwiler, Jordan Zimmermann, Lance Lynn, Jonathon Niese and Chris Sale. I'm considering dropping Jackson or Cahill to beat the rush to Trevor Bauer. Crazy move? -- Chad Berry (via e-mail)

SW: It's not at all crazy, and it again goes back to the distinction between shallow and deep leagues.

In a 10-team league (shallow), you don't need to waste your time on pitchers who have clear limits to their upside. Humber and Jackson are competent major-league pitchers who deserve to make millions and start every fifth day for their respective teams. But that's in a 30-team league. When you reduce the 30 down to 10, a lot of quality options aren't going to make the cut. Humber and Jackson lack the sizzle to rank among the upper 40 percent of all starting pitchers in baseball.

I don't know that Detwiler, Lynn, Niese and Sale will rank among the upper 40 percent either, but they at least offer enough youth, upside and strikeout potential that I'm willing to give them a chance to pitch their way out of Fantasy relevance. So far, that hasn't happened yet, which means I have no use for the assured mediocrity. Maybe at some point, if enough goes wrong for the higher-upside types, the relative reliability of Humber and Jackson will make them relevant again, but I'm confident they'll be available if ever that happens. Or at least pitchers like them will.

Cahill isn't beyond dropping either, given his lack of strikeouts, but he's still young enough at age 24 that I could see him making good on his elite pedigree. No sense dropping him if you don't have to.

Since you clearly seem to prefer Humber to Jackson (not sure I agree), Jackson is the choice to drop for Bauer, and I think it's absolutely a worthwhile move in a league where you have plenty of pitching depth already.

Bauer is kind of the Bryce Harper of pitching prospects this year, with his electric stuff earning him Tim Lincecum comparisons and his minor-league strikeout rate so far backing them up. And though Lincecum wasn't quite an ace when he first came up midway through 2007, he was electric enough to start just about every week in 10-team leagues.

I don't know if Bauer will arrive before the All-Star break or how well he'll perform when he gets here, but again, I'd rather give him the chance to emerge as something special than settle for assured mediocrity.

Is my team doomed? I have Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chris Carpenter, Doug Fister, Ryan Dempster, Drew Pomeranz and now Evan Longoria. And it's not like Albert Pujols is doing much for me either. The rest of my team is Carlos Santana, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, Jason Kipnis, Mark Trumbo, Colby Lewis, Chris Sale, Matt Garza, Justin Masterson, Barry Zito, Mark Buehrle, Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Zambrano. My pitching staff is weak, but I knew that going in. The problem is that a bunch of my stud hitters got hurt. So do I wait it out? -- @simmygoblue (via Twitter)

SW: Sometimes when people come to me with long lists of injured players, they're kind of just looking to complain. But this one really is as bad as it looks. Of the seven players you listed at the top, the only ones on the verge of returning -- Fister, Dempster and Pomeranz -- are pitchers. Granted, you're better off with them than without them, but hitting was supposed to be the foundation of your team. And your hitting right now is in trouble.

The good news is you still have a solid foundation in place with Pujols, Santana, Tulowitzki and Holliday (yes, I still have confidence in Pujols -- and you should, too), so I think with a little bit of maneuvering, you can remain in contention.

This type of situation, when you simply have too much patching to do to rely exclusively on the waiver wire, is one where I might actually recommend taking the two-player side of a 2-for-1 deal. If you can trade an elite Santana for a couple of good options (say, a Joe Mauer and a Matt Garza) or maybe do something similar with an elite Holliday (say, a Michael Bourn and a Cory Luebke), it might just be worth your while.

I'm not saying those kinds of deals are easy to find -- you're basically asking the other guy to overpay -- but the demand for elite talent is so high in mixed leagues that you'll probably find a few owners eager to do it. I know I'd do it if I wasn't in a situation like yours.

Don't get so carried away with your negotiations that you end up trading Pujols and Tulowitzki, though. No matter what happens with the rest of your team, you'll always have a shot if you have them on your roster. They're arguably the two most advantageous players in Fantasy.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also check us out on Facebook or e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Dodgers' Turner: Joc Pederson only talks about hitting, ever
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:50 am ET) Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, who is competing for the starting job in center field, got his spring campaign started off on the right foot Wednesday against the White Sox. The highly touted prospect went 2 for 2 with one double and one run.

One person who was likely happy to see Pederson get off to a quick start was teammate Justin Turner, who spent the offseason working out in Los Angeles with the 22-year-old outfielder.

"He doesn't talk about anything but hitting, ever," Turner said, per the Los Angeles Times. "He loves to talk hitting. He's not afraid to ask questions, which I love. One of my pet peeves is when you're around guys who have a lot of valuable information and you don't ask them anything. When I'm around guys, I ask questions. I want to know what they're doing, what they're thinking, because I want to learn."


Rangers' Alexander Claudio hoping to earn a role
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:27 am ET) Rangers pitcher Alexander Claudio is hoping to be the team's lefty in the bullpen, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Claudio is one of three lefties in camp competing for the job. He performed well in his first taste of spring training, retiring two lefties during his inning of work. He allowed one hit, and struck out two batters. While Claudio's fastball barely registers on the radar gun, manager Jeff Banister still came away impressed.

"I like the secondary stuff," Banister said. "He's accepted the type of pitcher he is and is willing to be that guy. He’s really intriguing with the kind of deception he brings."

Claudio posted a 2.92 ERA over 12 1/3 innings last season.


Dodgers' Erik Bedard willing to go to Triple-A
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Dodgers pitcher Erik Bedard is willing to go to Triple-A if he doesn't break camp with the major-league club, according to MLB.com.

Bedard allowed one run over two innings in his first taste of spring action on Wednesday. The veteran said he knows that if the Dodgers five starters are healthy, he'll be sent to the minors. "I know where I stand," Bedard said. "The game is still fun. I like to play baseball."

Bedard posted a 4.76 ERA over 75 2/3 innings last season. 


Dodgers' Alex Guerrero willing to play third base
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero has been willing to learn third this spring, according to MLB.com.

Guerrero is in a bit of a unique position. With Howie Kendrick entrenched at second, Guerrero doesn't really have a spot in the team's infield. Due to his contract, however, the team can't just send him to the minors. Guerrero can block the move, and has already said he plans to do so if the team tries to send him down. If he can play third well, that may not be a problem.

For what it's worth, manager Don Mattingly believes Guerrero has looked better this spring. "I really do think the second year [in camp] he looks a lot different as far as being relaxed," Mattingly said. "He's swinging the bat well and he keeps improving."

The 28-year-old hit .333/.371/.621 over three minor-league levels last season. 


Twins' Byron Buxton doubles twice on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Twins outfield prospect Byron Buxton doubled twice on Wednesday against the University of Minnesota.

Buxton came into last season ranked as one of the best prospects in the minors. He had injury issues, which ended his season early. While Buxton is still considered the Twins top prospect, he was passed by other players in the overall prospect rankings due to the injuries. 

Buxton seemed to be 100 percent on Wednesday, doubling twice during the contest. He scored one run and drove in one RBI. The 21-year-old should open the season in the minors, but could debut as early as this season depending on his performance. 


Twins' Jose Berrios strikes out four on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Twins starter Jose Berrios struck out four during his first spring appearance on Wednesday.

Berrios took on the University of Minnesota, and turned in a good showing. While Berrios is a minor-leaguer, he's only 20, and was taking on players his age. Berrios allowed one hit and one unearned run over two innings of work. He struck out four batters.

Berrios is the team's third-best prospect according to Baseball America. He's expected to begin the year in the minors, but could move quickly based on how well he performs. 


Diamondbacks pitcher Braden Shipley makes debut Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Diamondbacks pitcher Braden Shipley pitched two innings in his spring training debut Wednesday, allowing just one baserunner and recording one strikeout. Shipley admitted he was a bit worried in his first appearance, reports AZCentral.com.

"I was a little nervous going in, but that was expected," Shipley said. "I think it was more excitement for me. That was really fun."

Manager Chip Hale said he expects Shipley to make starts in his next few appearances this spring.


Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson faces batters for first time this spring
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson was able to face live batters for the first time this spring since recovering from back surgery, the 27-year-old tweeted Wednesday.

Anderson was only able to pitch 43 1/3 innings in 2014 with a 1-3 record and 2.91 ERA after suffering the back injury that cut his season short. 


White Sox SS Tim Anderson looking to become long-term solution
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) White Sox prospect Tim Anderson is on a mission in spring training this year. He wants to prove that he belongs in the majors with the big boys.

"Just show them I can stay at short and my defense has come a long way and it's going to get better," Anderson said. "I want to be a shortstop for a long time. I'm going to be a shortstop. I'm going to work hard to stay there."

Anderson is currently considered Chicago's No. 2 prospect and could be just the prospect the White Sox are looking for. In his 2015 debut, Anderson smacked a two-run single.

"I'm just staying calm and trying not to do too much and just doing what I've been doing to be here," Anderson said. "It has been exciting to get in here and work with all the big leaguers and get my reps in and see how they go in the daily routine."


Reds' Kevin Gregg hoping to win a spot in the bullpen
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Reds pitcher Kevin Gregg is hoping to win a spot in the team's bullpen, according to MLB.com.

Gregg may be 36-years-old, but understands he still needs to prove himself.  "I don't mind coming in and earning a spot," he said. "I'm coming off elbow surgery. At this point in my career, it's something I need to do."

Gregg had bone chips removed from his elbow in August, but was able to hit 92 mph in a showcase in February. He believes his velocity has improved since then.

Manager Bryan Price had good things to say about Gregg thus far. "He looks great. He looks durable," Price said. "He's got hand speed. He's crisp with his location. I've been extremely impressed with Kevin to this point."

The 36-year-old tossed just nine innings in the majors last year.


 
 
 
Rankings