A few weeks back I wrote a piece on this space called Old Prospectors, Not New Prospects, in which I argued that gambling on the Jeff Keppingers and George Kottarases of the world was a better FAAB idea than grabbing the Gregory Polancos.
Since then I have been pondering this, and I think, with the transformation going on in baseball, maybe this was not the best idea after all.
Lawr relents on La Stella, others
I know that we all do love prospects, but I also know that historically it takes players a while to get their major league sea legs.
And while some players do indeed just rock from Day 1, like Albert Pujols, more often the path has been like that of Mike Trout, who struggled at .220-5-16 over 40 2011 games and then failed to make the Opening Day roster in 2012 before a May call-up after which he has shredded baseballs and numbers.
Similarly, there are those Gordon Beckham guys who hit .270-14-63 over 103 2009 games and has not really come close to that baseline since.
Still, we all see that teams are getting more aggressive in promoting their top prospects, and though a veteran pitcher might indeed have an advantage over a youngster who is green to the ways of an experienced big-league pitcher, these days just as many of those prospect pitchers are similarly being advanced.
That means as often as not, those same rookie hitters are facing pitchers they have likely seen in the in college or in the minors. Meaning on both sides of the plate, that experience advantage might well be eroding.
And though it does seem like pitchers can be a bit vulnerable, just think of how quickly Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha and Sonny Gray seem to have acclimated themselves.
Even more to the point are the hitters, and while I want to track this as the season moves through its cycles, I will make my case with a cluster of rookie hitters who have all come out of the box with, shall we say, a bang.
Danny Santana (SS/OF, Minnesota Twins): Where did this kid come from? Well, aside from the Dominican Republic and then Rochester where he hit an unassuming .268-07 this year, and then sitting largely on the bench for several weeks before earning some playing time. Well, it appears Santana came from the Lou Gehrig school of hitting, posting .379-2-11 with four steals over his first 23 games, while qualifying in the outfield as well as shortstop and middle infielder. Who knew?
Tommy La Stella (2B, Atlanta Braves): How refreshing might it be for the Braves to look at this kid and see his .400 average coupled with a .438 OBP over his first nine games? That is in context of La Stella replacing Dan Uggla, who has hit 24 homers over the past two years but is hitting an aggregate .348 over that spread, 52 points lower than La Stella's first few weeks.
Jon Singleton (1B, Houston Astros): New contract, big hype, and two homers including a slam his first week. Is there anything else you need to know?
Oscar Taveras (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): The National League's answer to Singleton and Springer homered his first game, and though he is hitting .212-1-2 over his first nine games, like his mates on this list, somehow I would not expect this to last.
George Springer (OF, Houston Astros): Springer sort of started the migration of the hitting prospects this year, and though he began slowly, he is now hitting .251 with a robust 12 homers and 35 RBI, which is a pace for 41 homers and 121 RBI over 162 games. Think maybe the Astros are on a path to redemption?
Eugenio Suarez (SS, Detroit Tigers): Talk about help in an unexpected way: The Tigers stumbled around at short trying all kinds of combinations of things and through his first four games, Suarez is hitting .500-2-4, better production than the Alex Gonzalez/Andrew Romine/Jose Iglesias merry-go-round.
In closing, I will admit the sample is small, and just like Jedd Gyorko has had his issues this year, the league might well catch up with all these guys.
On the other hand, the new die may well be cast and a new era of hitters -- and maybe even pitchers -- getting a chance earlier, and then establishing themselves in kind may very well have arrived.
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About Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com
Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.
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