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.
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.