Leaders and Laggards is dead! Long live Leaders and Laggards!
Itâ€™s true. The column pioneered by sabrmetric guru Mike Podhorzer over three years ago is no more. This writer wonâ€™t miss it at all. It was a 2,000+ word column that had to be finished either before games started or after all the games were finished. It was a grueling experience that wouldnâ€™t be traded for anything, but itâ€™s not sad to see it go.
Leaders and Laggards will be replaced by this very column, â€œLies, Damn Lies and Advanced Metrics.â€ Itâ€™s not going to be a strict top ten/bottom ten column the way LnL was. It will be a free-form column with a sabrmetric slant on the issues of the day.
Current sample sizes are still way too small to take seriously, but that doesnâ€™t mean we canâ€™t make some wildly inaccurate guesses based off of useless numbers!
The Joe Mather Award for the MVP of the spring went to Mike Morse and his 1.332 spring OPS. He blasted nine homers in 56 spring at bats…and then he got hot. Morse is currently rocking a 1.218 OPS with four homers in 24 regular season ABs. His HR:FB ratio is 50%. One out of every two fly balls hit by Morse has left the park. Morse could be a phenomenal sell high candidate for a frustrated fantasy GM with someone like B.J. Upton or Jay Bruce on their roster. Fantasy GMs are a superstitious and cowardly lot. Donâ€™t be afraid to take advantage of their insecurities. Morse will cool off and it will look ugly when it happens.
Morse has a 1.218 OPS and thatâ€™s not even top ten right now. Names like Todd Frazier, Gerardo Parra and, oddly enough, Jean Segura currently have an OPS higher than Morse. â€œYou might know itâ€™s the first week of the season if…â€
Speaking of Jean Segura, itâ€™s great that heâ€™s off to a hot start and heâ€™s been moved from the dreaded eight slot to second in the Brewers lineup, but heâ€™s sporting a 37.5% FB% in the first week. Jean, we need to tell you something and please, donâ€™t take this the wrong way, but…youâ€™re not a power hitter. Donâ€™t hit balls in the air. We know you managed a homer already this week and that was great, but youâ€™re not a power hitter. Your career high is ten and thatâ€™s impressive, but it happened four years ago in Single-A. You couldnâ€™t even buy a beer then. Please, hit the ball on the ground and use those two things under your butt to get to first base…or take four pitches outside the zone. You have a 10% BB% this week! Good job! Work on that and not hitting the ball in the air. Segura is hitting .500 with a .533. All this means is that he’ll probably be down around the Mendoza (could we re-name it “The Segura Line?) Line in about a month.
Remember when everyone was predicting a breakout for Brandon Belt? Remember when he blasted eight homers and posted a 1.265 OPS in spring? Wasnâ€™t March fun? Brandon Belt has started the season in a very Brandon Belt-like fashion. He started with an 0-fer. No big deal. Not everyone can start a season like Jose Iglesias. Then he got sick and then he got better, but heâ€™s still 0-fer the 2013 season. (A whopping 11 PAâ€™s) Spring stats are meaningless. Never forget this again, please
Lucas Duda has more walks (six) than games played (five). This comes after walking only 51 times in 459 PAâ€™s in 2012. Heâ€™s currently averaging 4.35 pitches per PA. That number would be a career high if Duda could maintain it for the season. Heâ€™s still available in a lot of leagues and you could have cool team names like â€œThe Duda Abidesâ€ or â€œDuda Right Thingâ€ if you have him on your roster. You could do a lot worse for a utility spot or a fifth outfielder in a shallow (10-12 team) league.
Remember when everyone was worried about Albert Pujols? Itâ€™s not a good sign that a player couldnâ€™t run until 60% of the way through spring training, but heâ€™s still Albert Pujols. Heâ€™s started every regular season game and only DHâ€™ed in one of them. The one when he hit two homers. Pujols could start seeing more time at DH and fantasy GMs should rejoice. Thereâ€™s no need to put him out there and beat up his body. The Angles should keep his legs and, more importantly, his bat fresh by keeping him off the field. Heâ€™s not an 8.0 or 9.0 WAR player any more, but heâ€™s still a top five first baseman and fantasy GMs who were scared off will likely regret it.
Join us again next week when weâ€™ll actually discuss those guys that lob spheres toward the men with the sticks…once they have more than one start or a couple appearances to look at. Same Matt-time. Same Matt-channel.