This week we posed a hypothetical to the knights, and asked them to focus more on the player evaluation than their philosophy with respect to handling reserves or stashing prospects. In full disclosure, I originally omitted Jurickson Profar but added him after a few responses came in.
You have one open spot on your reserves in a redraft league. Which do you pick up from Wil Myers, Oscar Taveras, Billy Hamilton or Jurickson Profar?
Myers. The Rays are in fourth place, not quite playing .500 ball. Overcoming some combination of the four current corner outfielders of Sam Fuld, Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez and Ryan Roberts should not be a major challenge.
Taveras has nowhere to play, though a continuation of Jon Jay's season-opening woes could change matters later on as would the annual Carlos Beltran injury.
With Chris Heisey out, the Reds are apparently dipping down to Double-A to bring up a .211 hitter in Donald Lutz. Not exactly a Hamilton endorsement in the near term.
I would not take Profar over Myers in a redraft league. Profar's best hope for 2013 playing time at the MLB level may be following a trade, as there seems no place for him to play in Texas. On the other hand, Myers could be in the bigs to stay by Memorial Day.
When considering a prospect for a reserve spot in a redraft league, I ask myself a 2-part question:
Taveras: smarter, safer choice?
1) Which player is likely to receive the most playing time?
2) Which player's skills and talents are likely to translate to the majors most quickly?
Taveras, even at age 20, has demonstrated 20+ homer capabilities and the ability to put the ball in play at a very high rate with a reasonably good batting eye. That's a skill/talent set that could translate very quickly to the majors. Jon Jay is off to a slow start and Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran both have shaky health records and are in the latter portions of their careers, so there is plenty of opportunity for Taveras here.
Myers is very patient and continues to hit .300 in the minors, but his batting average has always been a bit tainted by obscene batting averages on ball in play despite fairly high strikeout rates. While Myers is a patient hitter and I think long-term he'll adapt to the majors and be a Josh Willingham type, the righty also strikes me as someone who could be a streak hitter based on plate approach. So there is a bit of a higher risk here for translating skills depending on whether he gets off to a hot or cold start upon promotion. Fortunately for Myers, the entire Tampa Bay outfield is struggling and the left field situation is a stopgap situation. He could be the first of this group to be called up and it's possible the Rays will be patient with him if he struggles given the lack of competition in the system.
Hamilton is the most tempting target as someone who could boost your SB production or provide a nice trade chip. However, the righty is off to a slow start in Triple-A and continues to be a player who strikes out a bit too much for my liking given his limited power potential. He might end up a Michael Bourn type, which is far from anything bad, but there could be some struggles upon promotion to the bigs. The Reds already have suffered injuries to Ryan Ludwick and his replacement, Chris Heisey leaving Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson as left field options. The Reds are in no rush to call up Hamilton and have chosen to call up Lutz to replace the injured Heisey.
So while I like Taveras' skills and talents to translate to the majors, and as much as I am tempted by adding Hamilton's speed, I might have to choose Myers. Despite my hesitations over whether he'll quickly adjust or not, given his Triple-A production and the greater potential for openings in the Rays' outfield this season -- the more playing time, the greater the value.
I actually think the issue is not just who will get playing time, but who can I use the most?
Meaning Myers can hit for a lot more power than Hamilton and Hamilton can run a lot faster than Myers.
Still, I would go Myers. I am not sure that Hamilton and Taveras get jobs handed to them, but if Myers comes up he will play regularly a la Trout and Harper in my view.
Plus, I think he might be the best pure hitter of the troika.
Perry Van Hook
There are several questions here -- how soon do you need the help? There would be more impact on your fantasy team of the first one up which in my opinion will be Myers.
But secondarily it may be a function of team need. While Myers and Taveras will contribute to several categories, Hamilton is a one-category game changer and if my only need was speed I would take Hamilton and hope that he had enough time in Cincinnati to move me up that one category.
FWIW, I would not do what Perry suggests. With Hamilton carrying a .202 average in Triple-A, it does not seem likely that he is anywhere close to a promotion to the majors. If I needed steals, I could acquire them via trade. Get the best player now.
I think I agree with everyone, but not quite for the same reasons.
I think Myers has the most earning potential this season, because of probable opportunity, age and ability. If it's early in the season, I don't care what categories I need, I want to buy the most earning potential. Myers is likeliest to contribute in the HR category, and the surrounding ones to a degree. Power has become a bit scarce, and it's more difficult to acquire in-season than, say, stolen bases, in general.
Caveat: I don't think the Rays' place in the standings will have any effect on their decision about when to promote Myers. See the example of Desmond Jennings. The Rays do business differently from how most other teams do. They tend not to let the needs of the parent club supersede the needs of a player's development if they have other bodies available at that position.
Just as recycled April fantasy columns every year urge roto and head-to-head owners not to panic, the Rays aren't going to change their philosophy and mode of business because of one month's play. Or even two or three months' play. I honestly believe that the Rays, as they have implied to the media on multiple occasions, are leaving Myers' promotion date solely up to Myers. It's Myers who must demonstrate advanced control of the strike zone and have a well-rounded game -- productive ABs in the absence of a positive result for the individual.
Tampa Bay doesn't wholeheartedly care about whether the free agents they sign adhere to the same principles. They're concerned with finding bargains, players whom they can turn into something greater than what they paid, whether that's reflected in team and individual results or via a trade. Their homegrown players are going to be around for years, if things go well, so they have high expectations for their top prospects.
Myers is a more advanced prospect, so he probably won't be spending two-plus years at the Class AAA level like Jennings did. He may not be far from the point at which he has nothing more to learn in the minors. He could be up in early June, in theory, but if it's not until after the break, or it's later, the wait will be frustrating for mixed leaguers. Neither scenario would surprise me.
Being late to the party and, when it comes to analysis, seeing all of my prospective dance partners taken (nice to see you again, high school), I'll concur with the popular belief -- and my colleague's notion -- that Myers offers the best combo of production and window for 2013. With all the caveats Nick mentioned when it comes to Tampa's philosophy, they have, among the three squads holding these elite youngsters, the most expendable parts in places where Myers could contribute in a lineup and with the leather, and there's little else besides their organizational approach keeping them from making the move whenever they desire.
Hamilton may win SB cat, may flop
I favor Taveras in the long term when it comes to a ceiling, but he may only get six weeks' worth, max, of an opportunity this year, and it would require a significant roster change for a contending Cardinals team, barring an injury. They tried squeezing Matt Adams into a fully healthy lineup whenever possible because he earned his time, but I'm not sure they have room to do it again, this time to give Taveras a viable 2013 sample. Maybe if they finally tire of Jon Jay, as mentioned, or Adams' injury lingers....
Hamilton is suffering from Dee Gordonitis and may only be a role player if he arrives too early. I doubt Cincy would want that course for him unless they feel ill-equipped for clinching a postseason. That might be enough in cavernous fantasy cases, but I'm not going to bank on it. By the time they may reach that conclusion, Hamilton's opportunity for at-bats -- which would already be part-time, most likely, and fall short of anything worthwhile currently stashable in most mixed leagues -- would last only a few months' time, if all breaks right. Too many moving pieces exist for the big-league squad to prompt them to rush him up. Let him learn to field his position and extract more from his lumber.
OK, the consensus seems to be Myers.
Let's introduce some philosophy into the question: 15 team mixed league 5x5
You have the following players ON RESERVE and would play them in your UTILITY so positions aren't relevant. Who, if any of the following, would you drop to pick up Myers assuming Myers is still in the minors?
Ike Davis, Mark Teixeira, Vernon Wells, Tyler Colvin, Jon Jay or Jeff Francoeur
Hard to drop someone you are using for a player not up and thus tie up a roster spot -- at least in high-stakes, no- trade contests.
On the other hand, Colvin is also in the minors so that space could easily be used.
As soon as Myers is called up, I doubt you have need/room for either Colvin or Frenchy.
For Myers today, I would drop Colvin, Francoeur or Jay, in that order. Even if I lost all three, Davis and Wells would provide me immediate reserve help at CI and OF if needed. Having the potential boost of Myers and Tex later would be nice.
First reaction (I'll be that guy): Whoa, Myers is still available in a 15-teamer?!
Agree with Brian. I'd dispatch any of the last three sans regret. Not so with the others. Too much upside/confidence in Ike turning things around. You're holding Teixeira until you get a clearer prognosis and timetable; that'd be giving up way too soon in a league where he could make a huge second-half impact with a seamless comeback.
Wells, though primed to come down a bit, is still quite useful. He's the toughest quandary of these six and isn't a clear drop in the given format. It's the battle of planning for his downfall in output and playing time (wrong end of platoon with Hafner when Curtis Granderson comes back?) by ditching his present value in exchange for a potential boom in Myers. If my OF is stacked, I may thank Wells for his services and move on, but it's not black-and-white. There's plenty of foundation for what Wells is doing, and there are plenty of ways he can remain in the lineup.
I'd probably drop Frenchy first. To me, he presents the worst statistical evidence that he'll be useful when I do play him. He has the least "predictable" performance, too, which is important to me. It's difficult to know when to play him. He could slump for three months or three days, and he could hit for the same stretches (as we saw in 2011), but the slumps are likelier, and you can't tell when any of them are coming.
I wouldn't drop Davis or Tex (although I don't expect much from the latter and would hold him only because of perceived value. Jay is delivering other stats when he plays, even though his average is poor. His swing is much too busy right now, but if he irons that out, he'll be more than useful. If I can see that something is wrong, the Cards probably do, too. If he doesn't figure it out, oh well. I have more information about him and can project a favorable outcome more easily than I can the others.
I'd consider dropping Colvin instead of Francoeur, but I'd look deeply in Colvin's case before making the choice. He's hit well with Colorado Springs, but there's a reason that the Rox didn't promote him when Todd Helton hit the DL. I'd want to find out what that is and give myself a rough idea of when Colvin might play for me then. If it's months out, I'd drop Colvin.
I with Perry (never drop an active every day major leaguer). My Colvin is in the minors so I am okay waiving him.
Lord Zola's Wrap-Up
My answer to the question is a little different. I agree that Tampa will promote Myers before any of the others are given the call (barring an unforeseen circumstance) and I also agree that the best ploy is to maximize the time the player is active which should render Myers my choice as well – but it isn't.
Here's my problem (Rob came closest to hitting on it). I'm not at all confident Myers will be productive. Plain and simple, he fans WAY too much. He's a BABIP monster which is not a sure thing to translate to the bigs. I've heard Jay Bruce as a reasonable career comp. Until I see more contact, my comp is Brandon Belt – another minor league BABIP monster slow to adjust to MLB pitching.
Because the spirit of the question is to choose someone and not answer none of the above, I'll take Taveras since I think he profiles as a player that could have immediate impact when he is called up. I know Myers will be up longer, but for me that just means he'll be hurting you longer.
As for whom I would drop to pick up Myers, for me it's different since I'm not anticipating all that much help. I'd do exactly as Nick suggests and investigate the deal with Colvin. In my mind, if Colvin were to play, his expected numbers are Myers' peak this season. I would not drop any of the others.
Keep in mind this is just one guy's opinion -- based primarily on my disdain for strikeouts. Though I have found relying on this process provides more hits than misses (pun intended). Some like to use their gut or other subjective means in analysis, I prefer the objective path and accept that there will be players going against the odds. In order to be right more than half the time, you need to accept being wrong the rest of the time as opposed to trying to be right every time.
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.