Friday, March 30, 2012

Season Preview: Big Damn Heroes

Last year's DAFL showing made this owner the first in league history to have both won it all and come in last. Unsurprisingly, the team exited the year with a lackluster keeper list. But, as discussed in the last TA, they made a couple of astute pickups and also won the draft lottery, giving them the right to draft any player named Hanley with the first pick. How much ground have they made up?


The big damn hero
At this risk of being overly reductive, this really does come down to how Hanley Ramirez does this year. Just about every data point is trending in the wrong direction--he's declined in all counting stats, BA, OBP, and SLG in each of the past two years. But there have been tons of stories coming out of spring training about how Hanley is finally healthy, has shortened his swing, is eager to prove himself with Jose Reyes on board, etc., etc. Yes, many ST stories are happy horseshit, but they're enough to inspire hope, especially given the amazing performances Hanley has put up in the past. I believe.

If Hanley does rebound, there's a chance that this team will have the best player at both SS and 2B, where Dustin Pedroia is holding down the keystone. Winning up the middle gives a team a big advantage. The corners are iffier, especially at 1B where Adam Dunn was the worst starting player in all of organized sports last year (narrowly edging out JaVale McGee and Blaine Gabbart for the honor). He'll also need another catcher after the ASB, when Russell Martin starts his annual tailspin. Regardless, with a healthy Hanley, this is a strong group. Without him, Pedroia's the only lock to be above fantasy-average at his position.


Hero of the big dam
I still don't know what to think about Curtis Granderson. Over the past five years the guy has been a top pick in our league, a fourth outfielder, traded in real life, and the AL leader in RBI, somehow all in that order. Assuming he doesn't get benched again for no reason, he should be great. He's backed up by maybe the most underrated player in baseball, Andrew McCutcheon, and maybe the most overpaid player in the NL (non-Ryan Howard division) in Jayson Werth. Luckily, Werth's ridiculous paycheck doesn't factor into his fantasy value--I like him for a bounceback this year. Plus there's future world religion founder Mike Trout waiting in the wings for the day when Vernon Wells gets carried out back and Ol' Yellerized.  Good group.

Starting Pitching

The damn hero of Big
As we've started to see in the other previews, there are a ton of good rotations out there this year. This team had a chance to join them, until the news that Chris Carpenter has some sort of mystery nerve weakness. The last guy to have mystery nerve weakness was Joe Mauer, and he ended up missing a lot of the year. (And what kind of sucker would want Mauer on his roster this year, right? Amirite? Shit.)

Anyway, in Carpenter's absence, the rotation is fronted by Zack Greinke, flanked by Max Scherzer.After that, we're down to even-year Josh Beckett, which any Sox fan will tell you is a daunting thought. I do like Edinson Volquez as a sleeper candidate in San Diego this year, although the change in parks won't help him as much as you might think, because his biggest weakness is BB%, not HR%.

The upshot is that this is a perfectly fine rotation in a year where there are multiple very good-to-great rotations. It will take a healthy Carpenter plus one other elite performance (by Volquez or a trade acquisition) to boost them into the elite tier.


Comprehensive, with four closers plus two other lurking closer candidates. This points out an interesting split in the league this year. The closers are concentrated on 4-5 teams, each of whom have guaranteed themselves at least 8 points in saves. BDH is one of those teams. Another two teams are functionally punting saves.

The interesting part will happen in the middle. Somebody is going to fall into 7 save points without having really kept saves or targeted them in the draft. If that team used those resources wisely elsewhere (a big assumption, I admit), they should have a leg up on the megapen teams. Something to keep an eye on.

In any event, this pen will serve this team well.


I hate to go back to the good-not-great well, but I think that's where we're at. Yes, a triumphantly resurgent Hanley could lead this team back to the board. But as constituted (and assuming a deep discount on Carpenter's performance), they look a little short. Still, the owner clearly knows what he's doing. If he can swing one more good trade, look out.

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