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Friday, March 30, 2007

Two From BPro

First off, Nate Silver likes the Angels in the NL West ($) as an 86-76 team:
Take the Over: PECOTA is penalizing Casey Kotchman for an extremely poor performance in limited playing time in 2006 that was caused in part by his mononucleosis. I maintain that he’s an overrated player—even his 90th percentile forecast limits him to .293/.360/.439, which is about average for a first baseman. But he also won’t be as bad as PECOTA’s .249/.308/.348 forecast line, and if he is, there’s no way he’ll get 350 plate appearances with the Angels.
I happen to think Kotchman is just Paul Konerko rewound a decade or so; he'll play a helluva lot better once he (a) stays healthy, (b) fills out a little more, and (c) gets the opportunity to play regularly. The problem with projecting him is his injuries, which weren't of the Jason Repko variety (i.e., chronic leg problems requiring surgery and extensive rehab time). He also likes Howie Kendrick as a player PECOTA underappreciates; it's interesting to note that last year it had him projected as the most valuable second baseman in all of baseball; his actual contributions (many of which came at first base, where his bat was considerably less valuable) were somwewhat less than that, but his maiden season was far from a bust. Silver finishes:
The Verdict: The Angels’ starting pitching had a few health scares in spring training, but Jered Weaver and Bartolo Colon are progressing nicely, and this rotation should be very, very good. In fact, the Angels would be candidates to be the best team in baseball if they weren’t wasting key offensive spots on players like Kotchman, Garret Anderson, and Shea Hillenbrand. I think Bill Stoneman takes at least one opportunity to leverage his deep minor league system and upgrade the middle of his batting order, which has the potential to produce huge gains at the margins. We’re going to add two wins for 88-74. Keep in mind that the Angels project to be a very good secret sauce team if they reach the playoffs. They’re my pick to represent the A.L. in the World Series. [emphasis added]
Silver likes the 88-74 Diamondbacks to take the NL West, and also to represent the league in the World Series; a Snakes/Angels Series? Man, that would be something. Anyway, he's got this to say about the Dodgers, whom he projects to an 80-82 record, good for third place behind the 86-76 Padres:
The Verdict: This is one of the harder teams in baseball to forecast because of the huge amount of injury risk, exemplified in guys like Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra, Randy Wolf, and now apparently Rafael Furcal. I’m not sure that they’re the best team in the division even if they do stay relatively healthy; the NL West has gone from being relatively weak to relatively strong, and the Dodgers lack any kind of true superstar talent. Still, it’s a deep club, especially considering their minor league system, and that counts for something. We’ll add two wins for 82-80, but we’d add more if their GM wasn’t as veteran-happy as Ned Colletti.
Update: Joe Sheehan pegs the Angels as a fourth-place, 80-82 team in his preseason projections:
#19: Los Angeles Angels, 80-82, fourth in AL West, 717 RS, 723 RA. This is a hard offense to predict, as so much depends on how the playing time gets distributed. Will Casey Kotchman hold the first-base job and provide a dose of OBP? Will Juan Rivera come back in the second half and hit as well as he did in ’06? Will Robb Quinlan play as much as he deserves to play, especially in the absence of Chone Figgins? The pitching is solid, but the defense has slipped in recent years, and won’t be an asset this year.
Apparently he hasn't been watching them make those triple plays in spring training...

The other piece I wanted to highlight was part of a new fantasy feature at BPro, Market Movers. Today's includes a rip on Chone Figgins:

It's hard to find a player who exploits the difference between fantasy and reality more than Figgins. Despite a career OBP resting in the mid-.340s and power that couldn't jump-start a tricycle, he's a valuable commodity in rotoworld, thanks to lots of stolen bases and positional eligibility that reminds traders of a Bert Campenaris publicity stunt. Sidelined for a month with a broken finger, traders have unloaded Figgins for the time being, praying for a Brandon Wood IPO like the Aztecs prayed for rain.
I was absolutely certain Figgy was clearing .420 SLG over the last three years, but it looks like author Jeff Ma is right on the mark with this one: even with his speed-amplified SLG from triples, he's still hardly a guy you can afford to leave at an offense-minded position like third for an extended period of time.

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