Articles of Configuration

Why Can’t Bourjos Stand for Bases on Balls and Bunting? PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 15 March 2014 00:00

It is the time of year, having reviewed stats of players over and over, when certain items stick out. Some that seem to have the right raw materials to become a more complete player either do not recognize what they have or for some reason do not fully deploy them. This is my assessment of one such player.

Especially on a Sunday afternoon when the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz, the club’s Grapefruit League road game was not drawing exceptional attention. After all, only three Cardinals starters rode the bus to Viera.

One was centerfielder Peter Bourjos, back after having sat out seven spring games with a hamstring injury.

Leading off against Washington Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg, Bourjos coaxed a walk. In addition to it being his first free pass as a Cardinal, it was a relatively unusual appearance over his four-year MLB career.

I find that to be both surprising and disappointing, as it seems that the 26-year-old is not fully utilizing his talents.

At the team’s Winter Warm-Up fan festival in January, Bourjos disclosed that one of his goals for his first season with his new club is to steal 40 bases. That drew a lot of media attention. After all, as a team, the 2013 Cards were dead last in the National League by a considerable margin with just 45 swipes. Just this week, the outfielder reaffirmed his intent, suggesting a .280 batting average should enable his steals target.

What about being more creative in getting to first, Peter?

Bourjos explains that his approach at the plate is basically to aggressively hit his way onto base. He makes it clear that working deep into counts and drawing walks are not major elements of his game. Too bad, as that signals his likely destination to be the bottom third of the batting order instead of the top.

To put this into perspective, in 1,136 major league plate appearances, the right-handed hitter has drawn just 63 walks, or a rate of 5.5 percent. His career on-base percentage is .306, to go with a batting average of .251.

In comparison, last season, fellow outfielder Matt Holliday had a walk rate of 11.5 percent, over double Bourjos’ career mark. Matt Carpenter walked 10 percent of the time, which explains why he and Holliday are likely to again appear in two of the first three spots in the Cardinals lineup. Even the man whose job Bourjos is trying to take, free-swinging Jon Jay, drew a free pass 8.3 percent of the time in 2013.

So, why isn’t Bourjos drawing more bases on balls?

He lacks patience. Last season, Bourjos saw an average of just 3.70 pitches per at-bat. That would have been the lowest among 2013 Cardinals regulars but is comparable to the team’s two most aggressive hitters last season in Holliday (3.71) and Jay (3.75). As noted above, the results for the latter two were very different, however.

The game-breaking speed that Bourjos possesses in centerfield is one of the major reasons he was a target of the Cardinals in their trade with the Angels. He has deployed that to his advantage on the basepaths with 41 steals in 54 attempts for a success rate of 76 percent.

Yet, it seems Bourjos is reluctant to use that speed in the act of laying down a bunt to reach base. Of those 1,136 career plate appearances, just 76 were bunts. 20 were successful sacrifices, intended to move runners over.

In the remaining 56 official at-bats, Bourjos enjoyed tremendous success. He collected 32 hits and made just 24 outs for an amazing bunting batting average of .571. Bourjos clearly has the ability to execute the play successfully.

So, why isn’t Bourjos bunting his way onto base more often?

Granted, if he tried to bunt more frequently, his success rate would almost surely drop. Still, there is a long way from .571 to .233. The latter is Bourjos’ career batting average in his non-bunting situations. In other words, that 32-for-56 success bunting has contributed 28 points to his career batting average of .251 and of course, to his OBP, as well.

Here is hoping that Bourjos is seeking out the advice of experts including former Cardinals stars Lou Brock, Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith in camp this spring and focusing more of his attention on reaching base than on swiping bags once he gets there.


Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at and Follow Brian on Twitter.
Last Updated on Monday, 17 March 2014 08:31
Steroid Suspicions, Not Stats Hurting Bagwell’s Hall Chances PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00

Tony La Russa has been busy in recent months. The former manager of the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals is now a senior executive with Major League Baseball and a recently-named Hall of Famer.

Handling the accolades that go along with his upcoming Cooperstown induction and preparing for the new instant replay rules to be implemented in MLB this season are two of his major activities.

In the latter role, La Russa and fellow MLB executive Joe Torre have been visiting Major League clubhouses this spring, briefing players on the upcoming changes brought on by the expansion of instant replay.

As one would expect, every stop along the way also includes a meeting with the local press covering the team of the day. At Kissimmee, La Russa was asked about the Hall candidacy of a pair of players that have not yet made it, former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell and second baseman Craig Biggio.

La Russa’s response, as reported by, was curious. He believes Biggio is going to get into Cooperstown, but casts blame for Bagwell’s state on the voters’ reliance on newfangled stats.

"The new metrics have a real important place, just don't exaggerate them, and I think they get exaggerated at times. Like with Jack Morris, and maybe Bagwell”, La Russa said.

The blame seems badly misplaced.

Let’s get real. The reason most people believe why Bagwell is not getting enough votes to get into the Hall is not sabermetrics – it is steroid suspicion. You know that, I know that and certainly La Russa, a very intelligent man, knows that. So why insult our intelligence?

Bill Baer of NBC Sports Hardball Talk did a thorough job of explaining how “the new metrics” actually bolster Bagwell’s Hall case, not hurt it. Providing examples, Baer instead attributes Bagwell’s current voting purgatory on a segment of “baseball moralists” among the voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who have ruled Bagwell guilty of PED use despite any hard evidence.

One of the few blemishes on La Russa’s long, successful and celebrated career was his role as manager of two of baseball’s most prominent sluggers of the steroids era, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. The ex-manager angrily defended McGwire for years as not being a user up until the day Big Mac finally admitted what was obvious - to most everyone except his skipper. That is, if we actually believe what we have been told.

Sadly, when given a chance to cast light on the real issue with Bagwell, La Russa instead chose an easy scapegoat at which to misdirect blame, stats nerds. Here in the real world, MLB on the whole and La Russa specifically continue to duck one of the game’s ugliest issues – the legacy of players from the steroids era. It is easier to just leave it on the laps of the writers and then take potshots at imaginary targets when the going gets tough.

Instead of remaining in denial, it is a shame that La Russa does not use his prominent national platform to try to help undo the damage that period did to the game. Who better could help broker the creation of more specific and fair guidelines on how to treat players from this time than La Russa, now a senior executive with MLB?

Numbers aren’t the problem, Tony, but you knew that already.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at and Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 March 2014 09:16
Be Careful with Spring Injury and Recovery News PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 01 March 2014 00:00

One has to be very careful not to read too much into injury-related news coming out of spring training camps. Let’s take the St. Louis Cardinals as an example.

Just a few days ago, Jaime Garcia was telling anyone and everyone how good his surgically-repaired left shoulder was feeling. Next thing we heard, he was on his way to get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews - before the first official Grapefruit League game was played.

Then we have former closer Jason Motte, coming back from Tommy John surgery. The messages may have appeared to be mixed, but not if you have been paying close attention.

On February 8, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Motte would begin spring training behind the team's other relievers, but the team believed that it was possible he would be ready for the start of the regular season since he would not need as much time to build up stamina.

On Tuesday, February 18, Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch said Motte’s throwing plan was “on the fast track.” He spoke with an excited Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist about Motte.

"He's ahead of schedule, based on the indications I got before spring," said Lilliquist. "You would conceivably say he's a week behind (the other pitchers). Did you see him throw today? The ball's coming out great."

With a bandwidth of possible return dates following any surgery, including this one, some may have become too optimistic.

A number of sites that integrate news from first-reporters - some but not all of which are packaged for the fantasy baseball player – focused more on the first part of Lilliquist’s comment. They interpreted that Motte being ahead of schedule reinforced the earlier reports that he would be ready to be activated to start the regular season.

Motte threw a bullpen on Sunday, February 23. Though it was considered a good sign, the reliever was cautionary. "It's a baby step," Motte told "Ramping it up too fast right now wouldn't do anyone any good.”

On Monday, February 24, the Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz furthered the optimism when he said, “there's a good chance Motte will be part of the staff on opening day.”

On Tuesday afternoon, February 25, Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch provided some new news, reporting that “Motte had a brief setback in his throwing before camp. That has caused a lag in his schedule that he could make up, but as of right now he would not be ready for opening day.”

Motte himself admitted that it would be "a push" for him to be ready to start the season.

Interestingly, back on February 16, even before he was said to be ahead of schedule, Motte did not acknowledge having a pre-camp setback, brief or not. In fact, he talked about taking precautions to avoid that very thing.

"I've been throwing for three weeks; this is the 10th time that I've thrown," Motte told Goold in mid-February. "You take anyone throwing 10 times you're not going to hop on the mound and air it out to see how it feels. That's an easy way to have a setback. Really, if you want a setback really hop on the mound and fire 15 real quick. It's one of those things where we're still taking it slow. Still taking our time."

For what it is worth, I agree with those who see no reason to take unnecessary risk with Motte to make a certain date. From a fantasy perspective, Motte has to be considered a setup man with good ratios, but would need an injury or a period of ineffectiveness from Trevor Rosenthal to regain his job and mixed league relevance in 2014. A free agent following the season, Motte could end up closing elsewhere in 2015.

In reality, the bottom line of Motte’s current injury status is no different from what the pitcher has been saying all along. He never said he would be ready to start the season. Others said it for him. My caution is to listen to what the players are saying directly as much as possible this spring. 


Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at and Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 March 2014 09:01
Critiquing Our Own Picks and Pans PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 22 February 2014 00:00

Long-time editor of The Fantasy Baseball Guide Professional Edition, my National League Tout Wars competitor and friend Peter Kreutzer, was recently asked an interesting question by one of the magazine’s annual buyers. Peter shared the exchange on his blog.

The reader wondered which of the 30 of us who pen Picks and Pans that accompany The Fantasy Baseball Guide’s player profiles each year do the best job. Peter replied with the kind of tact and professionalism for which he has long been known, noting a strength of the process is that each writer can express himself as he best chooses.

Still, it caused me to wonder, as I am big on accountability. How did I do last year?

As a general rule, I try to go more for quality than sheer quantity of picks. I don’t consider myself much of a comedian, instead simply hoping to dispense solid advice. Man, I wonder how I did.

First, I had to re-familiarize myself with the specific Picks and Pans I had submitted for the 2013 Guide. Once I found them, I was a bit embarrassed. It appears that I had only gotten halfway through by the publishing deadline and sent in only my pitching write-ups. My best intention of completing the hitters must have been covered by an avalanche of other work – or maybe just a faulty memory.

I had gotten as far as 12 names – an equal number of pitching picks and pans alike. Re-reading my one-paragraph summaries for each, it is clear that at the time, I had been dabbling in the question of how best to apply newer analytics such as FIP and BABIP to fantasy projections.

Though I will not repeat every word of those year-old magazine predictions now, what I will do as part of revisiting them is to compare the pre-season values of the pitchers to their end-of-season values in a 15-team mixed league format. The source of the respective dollar amounts is our Mastersball Platinum package, of course.

After all, the numbers will speak far more loudly than my words!

2013 Picks

Max Scherzer. Pre-season value = $13, End-of-season value = $29.

I readily admitted right up front that it may have seemed to be nothing more than bandwagon-hopping to pick a 16-game winner from 2012, but I had justification for expecting even more in 2013. Among all qualifying starting pitchers, Scherzer’s 2012 BABIP of .333 was second-highest in all of MLB. I felt a tighter defense in Detroit would help, as well.

Adam Wainwright. Pre-season value = $23, End-of-season value = $26.

Not a lot of magic here, yet a slight uptick in return was achieved compared to the early-camp view. The big right-hander was in his second year following Tommy John surgery. His 2012 record was mixed, but he was also somewhat unlucky as his .315 BABIP was fifth-highest among MLB qualifiers. His FIP was almost a run lower than his 2012 ERA.

Tim Lincecum. Pre-season value = $6, End-of-season value = $-3.

I guess I should have taken more seriously his in-season fall from grace in 2012 and not accepted his partial recovery when it seemed to matter most that October. What caught my eye is that his 2012 FIP was a run lower than his ERA and his BABIP of .309 ranked in the top-20 highest in MLB. It turns out that diminished velocity trumped it all.

Cliff Lee. Pre-season value = $26, End-of-season value = $26.

In a bit of a twist of the infamous Dennis Green rant of several years back, “He was what we thought he was.”

Again, in looking back, perhaps this was low-hanging fruit. After all, there was no way Lee’s 2012 hex would be of more than one year duration, right? I saw absolutely nothing wrong with Lee’s peripherals and he delivered as expected.

Greg Holland. Pre-season value = $11, End-of-season value = $23.

I certainly did not get in dutch over this choice. (See why I generally avoid comedy?) Though the 2013 Royals made some bold moves to try to improve their rotation, that wasn’t what was behind this pick. I was excited about Holland’s 12.2 K/9 rate and a very unlucky BABIP of .346 in 2012.

Jaime Garcia. Pre-season value = $5, End-of-season value = $-6.

I purposely closed out my picks with a high-risk, high-reward name. Garcia had shoulder problems to close 2012 but did not go under the knife. He had a great spring in 2013 and made it through nine solid regular-season starts before requiring that appointment with the surgeon. By the way, his 2012 FIP had been a full run better than his 3.92 ERA and his BABIP was an unlucky .339.

Pick scoreboard: 3-2-1. Obtaining only slightly better than a .500 mark is nothing about which to brag. Let’s move on to my…

2013 Pans

Fernando Rodney. Pre-season value = $15, End-of-season value = $8.

The then-closer of the Rays was inarguably coming off a strong 2012, but despite Rodney having more lives than a cat, I did not see more of the same coming in 2013. I felt I was backed up by his unbelievably-low .220 BABIP the year before. As you know, Rodney has since moved on to Seattle, where it often rains.

Joel Hanrahan. Pre-season value = $6, End-of-season value = $-11.

Despite a projection of 32 saves for the Red Sox, I did not like what I saw in Hanrahan’s 2012 results with Pittsburgh - a walk rate over 5.4 per nine innings, an unsustainably-low .225 BABIP and a FIP of 4.45 versus his actual ERA of 2.72. Granted, I had no premonition that his season would end in early-May due to Tommy John surgery, but I also did not own him in any leagues.

Sergio Romo. Pre-season value = $19, End-of-season value = $12.

I felt the Giants were bound to take a fall after their 2012 championship and their closer would share. After all, in 2012, Romo had stranded an unworldly 90.7% of his baserunners with a very low .239 BABIP. He is still a solid closer, but was overpriced last season.

Jered Weaver. Pre-season value = $25, End-of-season value = $7.

20 wins represents a tall tower from which to fall, but what really bothered me was a 2012 strikeout rate below seven per nine innings and a very low .241 BABIP. In all fairness, Weaver might have had a shot at returning his value had he not lost a couple of months with a broken non-pitching elbow. Still, a pan is a pan.

Jeremy Hellickson. Pre-season value = $8, End-of-season value = $-11.

There was more to Hellickson’s 2012 performance than a shiny 3.10 ERA. For example, just 6.3 strikeouts and 3.0 walks per nine innings and a FIP that was 1.5 runs higher than his actual ERA. Even I had no idea the pendulum would swing as wildly in the other direction last season, however.

Kyle Lohse. Pre-season value = $7, End-of-season value = $9.

Perhaps I did the same thing most everyone has done for much of Lohse’s career – sell him short. I thought the Milwaukee version would be less effective than the St. Louis contract year Lohse the year before. Knowing his 2012 BABIP was low at .262 gave me support for what became my missed pan.

Pan scoreboard: 5-1-0. Overall score: 8-3-1 (.727).

Well, that wasn’t so bad, after all. Of course, we are all only as good as our most recent Picks (and Pans), so get your copy of The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2014 Professional Edition. There, you can check out my current predictions, along with those of 29 of my esteemed peers, including our own Rob Leibowitz, Lawr Michaels and Todd Zola.

Tip: You can buy the online ($7.99) or .pdf ($9.99) versions of The Guide at Use the PROMOCODE “mastersball2014” to receive a dollar off. If you prefer the print version, check your local newsstand, but hurry before they are all gone.


Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at and Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 February 2014 10:15
An Early Look at How Others See Rookies PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Thursday, 13 February 2014 00:00

In terms of preparation for the fantasy draft season, this is about the time of year when I become fatigued from looking at my view of rankings and projections. While we always have mock drafts in which to follow and participate, to me nothing is as valuable as real, live drafts when the world is watching and the ultimate results really count.

One of the first and most respected industry drafts occurred on Tuesday, February 11. Our own Lord Zola had the first pick in the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) Mixed Draft. He can and most certainly will discuss his selection of Mike Trout first as well as the remainder of his roster.

I looked at the draft results for hints of how my industry peers are viewing rookies.

As we all know, a number of highly-respected prospect watchers also rank the best in the minor leagues each winter. Raters include Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, and many others.

The challenge in using those lists, especially for redraft leagues, is trying to figure out which prospects may have true big league opportunity in the upcoming season. For illustration purposes, I have married one such prospect list, Keith Law’s from ESPN, with the LABR mixed draft results.

In addition, on Twitter on Wednesday, former BA staffer and current minor league expert Jim Callis weighed in on his three pre-season Rookie of the Year candidates by league. I offer that input as well.

At least 23 rookie-eligible players, including a dozen from the American League, were named among the 435 players chosen in the draft’s 29 rounds. Three of the 11 from the Senior Circuit were selected by Lord Z.

Only seven were taken before round 20. Another six were selected in rounds 20-23, while the final ten were not called out until the reserve rounds.

LABR Law Callis

LABR Law Callis
AL rookies round top 100 ROY
NL rookies round top 100 ROY
Xander Bogaerts 11 2 x
Billy Hamilton 6 52
Taijuan Walker 16 16 x
Travis d'Arnaud 17 36 x
George Springer 18 19

Oscar Taveras 19 5 x
Nick Castellanos 20 32 x
Kolten Wong 19 91
Yordano Ventura 20 50

Gregory Polanco 22 13
Kevin Gausman 21 23

Archie Bradley 23 9 x
Matt Davidson 23 88

Chris Owings 25 * 72
Jackie Bradley 25 51

Javier Baez 28 7
Marcus Stroman 25 58

Jameson Taillon 28 27
Miguel Sano 28 8

Tommy La Stella 28 * NR
Addison Russell 29 3

Maikel Franco 29 * 63
Jonathan Singleton 29 78

* Lord Zola pick

Starting with the American League, the respective placements of the top three of Xander Bogaerts, Taijuan Walker and George Springer are not particularly surprising. Detroit’s Nick Castellanos in round 20 catches attention. The 21-year-old is among Callis’ top picks, likely because of the apparent clear playing time opportunity at third base.

Assuming Kevin Gausman can latch onto the back end of the Orioles’ rotation, his selection in the 21st round could pay off. While third baseman Miguel Sano and shortstop Addison Russell will have the opportunity to impress in Minnesota’s and Oakland’s big league camps as non-roster invitees, the top-10 prospects were taken in the reserve rounds due to a likely low number of MLB at-bats in 2014.

Switching over to the National League, Billy Hamilton’s projected value as a stolen base leader skyrocketed his placement into the sixth round – the first rookie taken. The potential benefits of Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud and Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras are well-known, though the latter may not get much playing time early on.

Taveras’ teammate, Kolten Wong, looked to have been taken ahead of his ranking, though Law is less aggressive on the second baseman than many other prospect raters. It should also be noted that Wong is coming to camp with a job in hand, of clear value to the LABR drafters.

Arizona hurler Archie Bradley looks like a nice pick in the 23rd round, but of course there are questions. Though the Arizona brass is saying that the signing of Bronson Arroyo does not diminish Bradley’s immediate opportunity, anyone who can count to five (as in five starters without Bradley) might beg to differ.

Who could blame Cubs shortstop Javier Baez if he pays a bit of extra attention in spring camp as to how Starlin Castro is playing? Baez’s projected late-season arrival could accelerate if Theo and Jed decide to send the disappointing Castro into early exile.

Lord Z nabbed an off-the-radar selection in Braves’ second sacker Tommy La Stella in the 28th round, before picking up an intriguing choice in 21-year-old Phillies third base contender Maikel Franco to lead off the final round of the 2014 LABR Mixed Draft.

In closing, I want to be clear that I am neither endorsing one prospect list over the others nor one draft over others. They happened to be the ones available to me today. As we get closer to March, much more tangible information will be out there, so let’s keep using it to our advantage.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at and Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 09:07
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 9 of 35
sex izle hd film izle