called-shots

Called Shots: Week 7

I am all in on Josh Donaldson.  He is making his debut on the rankings this week at #85 and is only going to move up if the past is any indication.  Donaldson was the 48th overall pick of the 2007 draft by the Chicago Cubs and was one of the pieces used to acquire Rich Harden from the A’s a year later.  In his first professional season Donaldson, who was a catcher at the time, hit for a line of .346/.470/.605 for low class-A with an 18.3% walk rate against a 16.8% strikeout rate.  Now, 49 games in low A is as close to meaningless as numbers can get, and the following season at single A was a painful reminder of that fact, as he hit just .217 in 63 games thanks to a .239 BABIP.  However, once he arrived in Oakland, the A’s sent him to high A where he proceeded to hit .330/.391/.564 in 47 games.  Once he hit double A the following year, he continued his up and down trend with a pedestrian but respectable .270/.379/.415 line, walking in 14.8% of his at bats. The A’s aggressively promoted Donaldson to triple A the following season where he struggled to hit for average, but did manage 18 HR in 348 PA, earning him his first cup of coffee with the big club.  In 2011 he returned to triple A where he cut his strikeouts down to 19.9% and stole 13 bags in 115 games.

Finally, in 2012 it all came together for Donaldson, he further cut down on his K’s to 14.5%, put up a monster ISO of .263 and tacked on 5 SB in 51 games before the A’s called him up for good.  This season has just been more of the same for Donaldson.  He is walking at a high rate (11%) not striking out much (16%) and has a powerful .201 ISO to go along with a .299 batting average.  The best case scenario for Donaldson is to be Chase Headley with a better batting average.  I think 20 HR with 10 SB should not be too difficult to attain, and the ability to hit for average has always been there.  Donaldson is 100% owned, but his owner is likely still wondering what to expect from this seemingly obscure player who hit a measly .241/.289/.398 a season ago.  Go make that owner regret trading him away.

The biggest change in the rankings this week is a complete turnaround on my perspective of Matt Kemp.  Last week I felt it was still only a matter of time before he went on a hot streak, but now it seems apparent that the shoulder surgery he underwent last year has taken its toll, and we may not see the real Matt Kemp emerge until 2014 rolls around.  Moving up in the ranks are arguably the two most recognizable names in the game, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, with Miguel Cabrera sandwiched in between them.  It seems impossible that two players so young can be so good, but it is apparent that I should never have moved Trout down in the ranks in the first place, and I am happy to be all aboard the Harper bandwagon as well.

 

  1. Mike Trout – I have learned that you should never doubt Trout.  He has dropped his strikeouts so far this year, from 21.8% to 17.8% while maintaining a well above average ISO of .226.  In the past 15 days he has a .300 batting average and a .980 OPS.  His power, speed and batting average are all where you’d like them to be, so there is really nothing else his owners could ask for at this point.  I’d try to acquire him if someone has discounted him even a little bit before the inevitable hot streak.
  2. Miguel Cabrera – He continues to be the most trustworthy player in the game.
  3. Bryce Harper – Harper’s season to date has been staggering.  To go along with his 10 home runs is a 14.3% walk rate which is inching closer to his minimal 16.4% strikeout rate.  Unsurprisingly his ISO continues to sit in the elite stratosphere, at .319.  He is my favorite for NL MVP.
  4. Justin Upton – Another week of nothing from Upton leaves him with a .205 average in the past 15 days.  I’m not too worried about him ending up with a top 5 season, but ranking him #1 was predicated on him producing around 30 SB, and with just 3 on the season he needs to quickly pick up the pace to meet that number. Given how powerful the Braves lineup is, I’m not too optimistic Upton will be running all that often.
  5. Ryan Braun – Braun has been his typical reliable self with batting average (.306) and power (.273 ISO), but he sits at just 2 stolen bases against 3 caught stealing.  He is still clearly a top 10 player despite the speed issues, but no longer a lock at the top.
  6. Joey Votto – Despite an unimpressive past week, Votto heads into action on Tuesday hitting .310 with a .909 OPS.  He has yet to get hot this year, I’d try to trade for him before he does.
  7. David Wright – Wright is walking more than he is striking out for the first time in his career (16.9% to 15.5%) and is taking advantage of his extra time on base with 7 SB to date.  He is also hitting for as much power as he ever has in the past, his .221 ISO trails only his 2008 season (.232) and 2007 season (.222) and is one point above the .220 mark he put up in 2006 and 2010.
  8. Carlos Gonzalez – His average dropped below .300 after a 2 for 17 stretch last week, but after Trout he still looks like the best power/speed outfield option.
  9. Robinson Cano – Cano continues his barrage of bombs, with 10 so far he looks likely to establish a new career high in homers.  He has also improved his power without sacrificing contact, as his 13.8% strikeout rate is identical to last season.
  10. Prince Fielder – Fielder continues to do exactly what is expected of him: hit HR (9), drive in runs (33), hit for average (.289) and take walks (16.2%).
  11. Evan Longoria – Longo is having a monster season, currently at .333 with a 1.012 OPS and 9 HR.  His BABIP of .373 means his average is not going to be batting title worthy at the end of the season, but with a career high 22.5% line drive rate, it is looking like he can set a new career high in batting average, in addition to a new career high in power numbers.  Now if only he could rediscover those wheels of his he’d be firmly in the discussion for the top 5 overall players.
  12. Troy Tulowitzki – Tulo is having a very similar season to Longoria, and has higher upside, but until he proves it for an entire season, Troy simply cannot be trusted.
  13. Andrew McCutchen – While McCutchen currently sits at a triple slash line of .268/.333/.420, there are some optimistic takeaways from his numbers.  He has cut his strikeout rate all the way down to 11.8% and he is hitting line drives at a higher rate than ever before at 23.1%.  Once his poor luck turns around (.282 BABIP, 8.7% HR/FB) we should see a player who may actually be better than the 2012 version.  BUY.
  14. Ian Kinsler – Kinsler is currently outhitting his BABIP and has a triple-slash line of .320/.378/.533.  He looks to be legitimately having a career year, but I can’t argue with selling high now to acquire some necessary pieces.
  15. Alex Rios – I remain firmly aboard the Rios bandwagon as he is walking more than he ever has, is hitting for more power than he ever has, and it has not come at the expense of either contact or speed.
  16. Shin-Soo Choo – Choo is in the perfect situation hitting leadoff for a great offensive team and has taken full advantage of it by putting up a career high 14.2% walk rate and cutting down on his strikeouts.  He has definitely been fortunate so far, with a 23.3% HR/FB that should not be sustainable, and a .364 BABIP.  However, he did put up a .353 BABIP last year and is at .354 for his career.
  17. Adam Jones – The nicest part of Jones’ season so far has been his willingness to steal bases, as he is nearly a third of the way to his career high of 16 set last season.
  18. Adrian Beltre – Yo Adrian looks no different than he has the past couple of years, his walk rate is up a bit over the previous two seasons, and his strikeout rate is down to just 10%.  His power is holding steady with a .213 ISO and the only thing that has held him back is a .246 BABIP compared to his career rate of .293.
  19. Giancarlo Stanton – The only news on Stanton is there is no news and he remains without a timetable.  I remain consistent in wanting to acquire him in every league.
  20. Jose Bautista – Right now the biggest question with Bautista is how high can he inch up his batting average on balls in play.  It currently sits at .232, which is actually higher than it was last year at .215.  The first year of his rebirth as a swashbuckling home run king in 2010 he was at .233, so his current mark may not improve at all throughout the season.  Bautista cannot be counted on for anything higher than a .250 batting average, and even that may be optimistic.
  21. Paul Goldschmidt
  22. Dustin Pedroia
  23. Chris Davis
  24. Edwin Encarnacion
  25. Anthony Rizzo
  26. Yoenis Cespedes
  27. Jean Segura
  28. Chase Utley
  29. Billy Butler
  30. Adrian Gonzalez
  31. Matt Holliday
  32. Jason Heyward
  33. Albert Pujols
  34. Buster Posey
  35. Brandon Phillips
  36. Starlin Castro
  37. Ben Zobrist
  38. Aramis Ramirez
  39. Todd Frazier
  40. Matt Kemp
  41. David Ortiz
  42. Joe Mauer
  43. Pablo Sandoval
  44. Jason Kipnis
  45. Josh Hamilton
  46. Hanley Ramirez
  47. Jose Altuve
  48. BJ Upton
  49. Desmond Jennings
  50. Ryan Zimmerman
  51. Carlos Gomez
  52. Mike Morse
  53. Ian Desmond
  54. Allen Craig
  55. Yadier Molina
  56. Jimmy Rollins
  57. Alex Gordon
  58. Carlos Santana
  59. Matt Wieters
  60. Asdrubal Cabrera
  61. Dexter Fowler
  62. Wilin Rosario
  63. Manny Machado
  64. Starling Marte
  65. Jay Bruce
  66. Austin Jackson
  67. Hunter Pence
  68. Brett Lawrie
  69. Nick Markakis
  70. Everth Cabrera
  71. Alcides Escobar
  72. Angel Pagan
  73. Nori Aoki
  74. Jose Reyes
  75. Elvis Andrus
  76. Mark Trumbo
  77. Mark Reynolds
  78. Josh Willingham
  79. Chase Headley
  80. Carl Crawford
  81. Carlos Beltran
  82. Curtis Granderson
  83. Martin Prado
  84. Mike Napoli
  85. Josh Donaldson
  86. Paul Konerko
  87. Freddie Freeman
  88. Eric Hosmer
  89. Ike Davis
  90. Salvador Perez
  91. Corey Hart
  92. Will Middlebrooks
  93. Mike Moustakas
  94. Kevin Youkilis
  95. Jayson Werth
  96. Nelson Cruz
  97. Shane Victorino
  98. Coco Crisp
  99. Michael Bourn
  100. Alejandro de Aza
  101. Chris Carter
  102. Erick Aybar
  103. Nick Swisher
  104. Nate McLouth
  105. Lucas Duda
  106. Lance Berkman
  107. Justin Morneau
  108. Domonic Brown
  109. Ryan Howard
  110. Michael Cuddyer
  111. Daniel Murphy
  112. Howard Kendrick
  113. Kyle Seager
  114. Zach Cozart
  115. Neil Walker
  116. Adam LaRoche
  117. Victor Martinez
  118. Evan Gattis
  119. Alfonso Soriano
  120. Josh Rutledge
  121. Matt Carpenter
  122. Jed Lowrie
  123. Dan Uggla
  124. Dayan Viciedo
  125. Pedro Alvarez
  126. David Freese
  127. Rickie Weeks
  128. J.J. Hardy
  129. Kendrys Morales
  130. Andre Ethier
  131. Adam Dunn
  132. Jonathan Lucroy
  133. Trevor Plouffe
  134. Marco Scutaro
  135. Torii Hunter
  136. Nate Schierholtz
  137. Jason Kubel
  138. Carlos Quentin
  139. Alexei Ramirez
  140. Michael Young
  141. Brandon Crawford
  142. Colby Rasmus
  143. Andrelton Simmons
  144. Chris Johnson
  145. Garret Jones
  146. J.P. Arencibia
  147. John Buck
  148. Brett Gardner
  149. Vernon Wells
  150. Cody Ross

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