Keeper Decision 2017: Reactions and Rankings

reactions

It is official the Salmon League Baseball keeper deadline for 2017 has come and gone. Keepers are now – barring injury over the next week – locked in for the upcoming season.

This year offered a number of easy choices for many teams, but plenty of owners took the decision down to the wire – including a debatable last-second change from InSaNeAuDiO at the deadline.

I’m going to breakdown the fallout from this year’s keeper choices by looking at the biggest surprises, biggest gambles, and ranking the best and worst teams headed into next week’s draft.

First up, let’s take a look at the biggest surprises.

Rich Hill? More like Rich IsThisGuyForREAL, AMIRITE?!

Hill, 37, is coming off a solid season split between Oakland and Los Angeles. That said, the lefty only managed 110.1 innings while fighting through injuries and ailments that have been a staple of his career. Despite cracking into the league back in 2005, he’s only topped 100 innings one other time and that was way back in 2007 with the Cubs. Since then, ineffectiveness and injury have kept him from being a major contributor.

In looking at the rest of the roster for High Cheese, it’s not hard to see how Danny Salazar or Felix Hernandez made a lot more sense for general manager Levi Elgersma in 2017. Perhaps he knows something we don’t or perhaps he lost a bet, either way; expect High Cheese to target pitching early in the draft.

Last Second Switcheroos

We had two teams make major changes in the waning minutes and seconds before the deadline, despite originally making their announcements well in-advance.

Captain Jack swapped out David Price and his balky elbow for Kate Upton’s boyfriend and (if this information on the internet can be trusted) major league pitcher, Justin Verlander with minutes to spare. An announcement that got buried beneath the commissioner’s failed attempts to post GIFs and the utter chaos that erupted after ZIMA’s amazing keeper announcement video.

As mentioned earlier, InSaNeAuDiO also made a change with mere seconds to go before the 5pm deadline when he swapped Johnny Cueto out and 2015 Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta in as his pitching keeper for 2017. The move – while bold and unexpected – is also one that could haunt InSaNeAuDiO. Given the two directions both pitchers’ careers appeared to be headed at the end of last season.

End of an Era + Re-Breaking New(ish) Ground

The reigning and defending SLB champion, The Groundhogs was the only team to not make a public announcement about their selections, but was also one of the first teams to send major shockwaves through the league on deadline day when the club made two major decisions.

First, the club opted to part ways with long-time franchise cornerstone, Ryan Braun. Braun has been with the club since 2008 and seemed almost assured of a roster spot again in 2017. The decision to cut Braun is even more perplexing after he posted the fourth highest OPS in his time with the club last season. At 33-years-old, he’s hardly over the hill and is, in fact, younger than Robinson Cano who was kept around for this season…an intriguing decision to say the least.

Second, The Groundhogs became the first second club in league history to keep a relief pitcher over a starter. This hasn’t happened since the money grubbers opted to keep Jonathan Broxton way back in 2010. Admittedly, there wasn’t much to choose from on the roster and Aroldis Chapman certainly holds more immediate value than the club’s alternative options. It’s impossible to fault him for the decision and it was predicted by many in advance, but still it is a first rarity for the league.

Story Time for ZIMA

Coming into the deadline, two of the keepers for ZIMA were all but set in stone. The third keeper was up in the air. Given the club’s long-term commitment to #SpringerDinger and the uncertainty of Trevor Story’s ability to duplicate and/or expand on his breakout 2016 campaign – most assumed it’d be a repeat of last year’s keepers.

ZIMA general manager threw all of that out the window with his incredible keeper announcement video minutes before the deadline. The selection of Story over George Springer was certainly a real (ju)sting to one general manager who was targeting the young shortstop in the draft.

In addition to the surprises, there were also some selections that could be viewed as major gambles for the clubs that made them. In some cases it was a selection between two very good players that could go either way and in others; it was a full-on gamble that a player has turned a corner and is ready to find a new gear going forward.

Byron Buxton or Byron Buston?

Byron Buxton should be a stud. He’s got the pedigree, the skills, and the opportunity. Yet, almost every time the Minnesota Twins have put him in position to take over as the center fielder of the franchise for the next decade – he’s failed to live up to his hype, or even Ben Revere’s hype.

That all changed late last season when he got called up and went on a tear. It was a small sample size of success, but it was enough to convince the Salmon Kings to keep Buxton on as a keeper. If Buxton has finally figured it out, this club will be annoyingly successful for a longtime. If he returns to his earlier form, this will go down as one of the few recent keeper gambles on young talent that didn’t work out.

Turner 1.1 – BAYBAY

Easily the most (over-)hyped player coming into the 2017 season is Trea Turner. The 23-year-old had an absolutely electric MLB debut last season ripping off a ridiculous .342/.370/.567 line while piling up 53 runs, 14 doubles, eight triples, 13 home runs, 40 runs batted in, and 33 stolen bases in just 73 games played. He did all of that while learning to play outfield on the fly to fill a need for the Nationals. It’s unsurprisingly that he’s ranked in the top 15 on most draft boards and has even gone in the top 5 in a number of major drafts despite his lack of big league experience.

So why on earth didn’t the Genies keep him? Well…that’s a very good question. Despite the hype, Turner did come with a ridiculously high (and unsustainable) BABIP and inflated power numbers that hadn’t made an appearance at any other level. Turner could come back to earth – which would still make him an incredibly valuable player – or he could live up to the hype and force the Genies general manager to spend yet another season lamenting over a keeper selection gone awry. Xander Bogaerts is a very, very good player in his own right and is still growing as a hitter, but Turner has the potential to be the National League’s answer to Jose Altuve and, well, that’s pretty damn good and hard to pass up.

Craiggers Keeps Kyle Schwarzenegger

A year ago, the Genies kept Kyle Schwarber with grand designs of having a catcher-eligible player who rarely catches, but has the ability to get on-base at a great clip and mash very, very, very long home runs whilst entrenched in the middle of arguably the best lineup in baseball. A year ago, that plan blew up along with Schwarber’s ACL during the slugger’s second start of the season in left field.

This year, it’s Sea Bass general manager Craiggers aiming for that same game plan. In rolling the dice on Schwarber’s health and playing time, he left two major contributors from last year’s squad – Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy – out in the cold for the 2017 campaign. If Schwarber is fully-healed and ready to play most days, this will be a great decision. If his balky knee is a problem in the outfield, things could get dicey with first base in Chicago occupied and no designated hitter slot available.

Finally, let’s take a look at the strongest and the weakest teams heading into draft day.

Strongest Clubs

Big Magoo is Money

It comes as no surprise that money grubbers are ranked at the top of the heap here. The club has three of the best young keepers in the game and the ability to add a third to the mix with top draft priority. He controls his fate on draft day and has the ability to garner the top overall pick – ensuring he locks up another elite bat at a premium position – or he could position himself to make the most of the wrap, a position which has yielded great results over the years.

cracker jack is back (again)

While he doesn’t have the same draft priority power as the money grubbers, he does have three lights out keepers and a knack for making the most of wherever he lands in the draft. Machado – while unlikely to swap 20 bags again – is at/near the top of the heap at two different positions and is still coming into his prime, Votto is one of the game’s most prolific on-base machines and a noted hater of paper airplanes, and Max Scherzer – if he’s not dead, I’ve heard rumors lately – is a phenom fueled by his love of chocolate syrup and no-hitters.

Volatile. Fuckwithable. Lacking Chill. Stocked with Talent.

38 MPH Heaters general manager Morgan Lux is a lot of things…but one thing he is not, is deficient of talent or enviable draft priority. He’s got his middle infield locked up with two multi-category contributors in Jose Altuve and Francisco Lindor. Throw in Madison Bumgarner as his ace and he has one of the best pitchers in all of baseball anchoring his rotation. This trio of studs is paired up with the fourth overall draft priority, allowing 38 MPH Heaters a lot of leeway to make the most of draft day.

Weakest Clubs

Seriously, Was He High?!

It was mentioned above in the “biggest surprises” section, but opting to roll with Rich Hill as his keeper pitcher over Danny Salazar or Felix Hernandez is a bold choice for High Cheese. If Hill is healthy, effective, and manages to pitch 200 innings at his full capacity, he looks like a genius. That said, right now it seems like a very risky choice for a club that’s once again opening the season handcuffed in terms of position-flexibility, banking on Freddie Freeman matching last year’s career year – which required a blistering 1.067 OPS in the second half – and is sitting on the pedestrian number eight draft priority slot. He’s proven to be one of the savviest general managers in the league in the past, but recent history has not been kind to the High Cheese franchise.

Disappointments – it’s in the Name

There’s a very real chance that the collective ennui of Twins fans is playing into this ranking, but Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier are hardly anyone’s idea of top shelf keepers right now. Sano has the potential to make me look like an idiot for saying that if he can get back on track as a 40 home run masher, but he’s coming off a year where he fell short of the lofty expectations set for him by the club, his fans, and himself. Dozier is coming off of a career year that saw him eclipse the 40 home run mark, all while turning around a putrid first half. Two years in a row he’s put up monster numbers for half a season and looked lost for the other half, which one is the real Dozier and which one will general manager John Kunkel get in 2017? Chris Archer is also coming off a disappointing year, but has the ability to rebound back to ace in waiting status in a hurry. The club has a good, not great seventh draft priority slot – but the club will be starting the draft with some work to do.

F’n Groundhog

The defending champions, The Groundhogs have already gotten some play in the surprises section, but we’re cycling back when looking at their draft day expectations. The curious decision to jettison Ryan Braun and the lack of a frontline starter leaves this club looking a little worse for wear, despite the shiny trophy they’ll be sitting next to on draft day. Jose Abreu is coming off of a down year and has seen his numbers slip each season he’s been in the big leagues. Robinson Cano – while coming off a monster power year – is 34-years-old and continues to see his numbers stymied by his home ball park, forcing him to do a lot of his damage on the road last season. Aroldis Chapman is arguably the best closer in baseball, but he would have been available in rounds three or four (most likely). He’s a very good player and the right choice given the other options, but the lack of any viable alternatives is never good – especially if Chapman is hurt between now and draft day (*wink*). When you toss in the final draft priority, it’s looking like a bit of an uphill battle for the reigning champ.

In closing – let’s take a look at the three keeper reveal videos from cracker jack, Dome Dog, and ZIMA.

cracker jack

Dome Dog

ZIMA

Grant’s 2016 Season Review

Minnesota at Texas

Original Story + Graphs by: Grant Morfitt

Another season in the books for the Salmon League and it was a tight one. 7 teams over 500 ball yet only 6 get in. With some new knowledge on how everyone would do against everyone else any given week and a true SOS shown, things got heated for some down the stretch.

First off, let’s go all the way back to the beginning of the year and revisit our draft. Once the draft is over it’s a mad fight for who did good, who did bad, who picked the most sleepers, and overall just who was paying attention. Well now that we have a full season in the books, how was everyone’s draft in reality? I took everyone’s teams they drafted and compiled their stats through the last day of our regular season, no moves, just the team you drafted, including your keepers. This is what the stats look like:

001

One note is that for OBP, ERA, and WHIP, I was unable to weight that to AB and IP, so a great reliever could bring down ERA and WHIP, but also the opposite is true for a pitcher who had only 1 start who got hurt (Tyson Ross).

I took the liberty of ranking each category 1-14 and then giving everyone a sum, more is good, to get a final rank of everyone’s draft. I have also included my initial rankings after the draft took place:

Actual Rank                                                                        Initial Rank

In looking at the actual ranking we see that all the playoff teams were in the top of the league, ZIMA and money grubbers were way up but missed the playoffs.

Next we look at each category and who was the winner and the loser in each, and also what the difference would be per week from top to bottom, get a sense of how close each category was, except the average stats:

004005006007

So let’s take a look at the actual statistics from each team this year, this will be real simple, I’ve got a table that has each team and what they got for each category followed again by a ranking of those stats the same was as always, each category 1-14, with more being better.

008

009As you can see from the table to the left, roto rankings do not translate exactly into H2H rankings, this is just a ranking on team stats all year, doesn’t account for real greats weeks when you blow someone out, or also real bad weeks when you don’t get much in each category. So to make up for that I have my next section.

So because we are a H2H league, let’s take a look at a team’s statistical finish each week then average them to see where they placed on average within the league. As most people should know each week I publish the rankings giving 1-14 points to each category, and then the next week that would reset to be all equal again. Using all 22 weeks we can see where each team finished on average.

010So basically to read this, Genies finished on average as a little better than the 5th best team each week, which was the top. This also gives us a clearer picture on the playoffs, the only outliers really are ZIMA and Rush. This then also leads into the next section of being lucky.

With H2H, there is always going to be that luck factor, on any given week how well does the team you play perform, as well as your own team, and how would you have done against about anyone else in the league. I have tried to capture this in a number using my own method.

For any given week I calculated what was your best possible outcome, be that 14-0, or maybe 9-5. Then I also calculated the worse possible outcome. Taking your actual record we can see how much closer you are to your best record or worst record and take the difference to get the “luck factor.” Here is everyone’s luck factor.

011The bigger the positive number means that you are closer to your best overall record than your worse overall record.

Below are the same graphs I had for mid-year but for the whole year, again here is a little explanation.

First there is a graph showing your weekly statistical rank. This is based on a point system where the best you can get is 14 and the worse is 1, no matter how much ahead or behind you are (left axis).

Secondly over that is a graph showing your actual winning % for the week (right axis). In an ideal world those graphs would follow each other pretty closely, but they don’t always.

I have also included what I call the “Luck Factor.”

Well so here we go–

38 MPH Heaters:

012

Captain Jack Sparrow:

013

cracker jack:

014

Dome Dog:

015

Genies in a Bottle:

016

The Groundhogs:

024

High Cheese:

017

InSaNeAuDiO:

018

money grubbers:

019

Radioactive Rush:

020

Salmon Kings:

021

Sea Bass v11.0:

022

SL Disappointments:

023

ZIMA:

025

Grant’s Mid-Season Review

lucky

Original Story + Graphs by: Grant Morfitt | Edits + Formatting by: Jeremiah Graves

The temperatures have warmed up and June is about to give way to July. This means that we are now at the halfway mark of the 2016 SLB season and, thus far, things are tight.

We have eight teams with a .500 or better record and only four games currently separate the top five teams in the standings.

Despite that, we still have a lot of season left to play and we’ve seen many major shakeups in the second-half in recent years.

In order to look at what has happened and what could happen in the second-half, I took a dive into the overall numbers.

Below I have included some information on each of the teams in the league. First, there is a graph showing each club’s weekly statistical rank. This is based on a point system where the best you can get in any given category is 14 and the worse is 1, no matter how much ahead or behind you are (left axis). Secondly, over that is a graph showing your actual winning percentage for the week (right axis).

In an ideal world those graphs would follow each other pretty closely, but they don’t always. I have also included what I call the “Luck Factor,” this is the percent based on how much closer you are to your best possible overall record to your worst, this is based on how you would do in match-ups against everyone else in the league in any given week.

In layman’s terms: bigger positive equals lucky and bigger negative equals unlucky.

Without any further ado, here are the graphs:

38 MPH Heaters:

38mph

Captain Jack Sparrow:

captainjacksparrow

Cracker Jack:

crackerjack

Dome Dog:

domedog

Genies in a Bottle:

geniesinabottle

The Groundhogs:

groundhogs

High Cheese:

highcheese

InSaNeAuDiO:

insaneaudio

money grubbers:

moneygrubbers

Radioactive Rush:

radioactiverush

Salmon Kings:

salmonkings

Sea Bass v11.0:

seabass

SL Disappointments:

sldisappointments

ZIMA:

zima

Finally, I thought it would be fun to see what records would look like if everyone had zero luck, or exactly half-way between best and worst possible. In that scenario the standings would look like this:

overall-with-zero-luck

 

Grant’s Draft Rankings 2016

good_vs_bad

Here it is. Time for another unbiased team ranking entering the season. I don’t want to say draft ranking because I am also putting keepers into these rankings. So how does your team look going into the season based on projections?

or projections I averaged two sources; Steamer, and an unnamed source. I like Steamer projections the best, and there is also a reason that many sites put it in their consensus projections over the likes of ZiPS. My unnamed source deals mostly in 5×5 roto, but has been very good at projecting the nine stats that I used from them, since we use OBP I couldn’t use AVG.

Team makeup plays a big role in how some systems rank people teams. If Team A has 12 batters but Team B only 10, one team has a huge advantage in gaining more counting stats, so how do you counter this? I have given everyone that someone drafted some sort of stats on your team. For bench people I took their projections and divided them by three, then added them in. How did I end up at three? Well I figured that each team has six games a week, and since most bench people are plug and play on off days, since there are two big off days, I figured they would see your lineup on average of two games out of the six per week.

Pitchers are a different story, I used all stats from pitchers, unless you for some reason had more than four relievers, which no one did. I figure if you drafted a starter you are going to start him, so it woks different than bench bats. Doing it this way people will be mad because then counting stats for teams that went pitching heavy will be elevated, remember though, more SP mean more losses, and a potential in late rounds to negatively affect ERA and WHIP.

All teams except three were an 11 or 10 batters, with three having 12 batters so that won’t matter too much anyway on the difference.

So here is how every ones teams ended up:

grant1

It’s interesting to take a look at the bottom and the top and see the difference

grant2

Since each category gives one point, we can rank everyone within the category 1-14. 14 being the best and 1 being the worst:

grant3

Pivot table off of that:

grant4

There you have it.

Following is a little snip about each team’s draft.

money grubbers

When your keepers are two top 15, almost top 10 players, who just happen to also be in the infield you are set up nice. How do you complement that by getting two of the best OF remaining and you have a team that could win all batting categories each week. Two of the top closers and a high K staff also make his pitching excellent.

ZIMA

The best pitcher on the planet anchors a solid rotation with a few excellent relievers makes his pitching something to fear. Top five in every batting category except steals makes him trouble as well.

Captain Jack

Two keepers who could net 80 or more homers, nice. Because he didn’t need the power he went more balanced with most batters, which actually left him a little light on power and runs, but solid everything else. A ridiculous bullpen that could win saves and holds each week with maybe the best one two pitching combination as well.

Radioactive Rush

Keepers that complement each other very nicely gave him 45 homers and 45 steals right off the bat. Hitters that are very balanced keep him in every batting category each week. Two high saves and two high holds guys anchor the pen. Questions about his second and third starters do loom.

Genies in a Bottle

In a league that counts doubles, Mookie gets a great boost to an already stellar tool set that could see him go 25/25. Has extreme balance in his batters, possibly a little low in OBP. What’s better than one pitcher on the Indians, how about two! Throw in some consistent relievers and high upside starters and watch out.

Dome Dog

Hello power. Could win home runs each week easily. He also has two prospects that if perform to their capabilities could put this team over the top easily. The ace in NYC is great, along with a solid staff, and great middle relief put this pitching near the top as well. Another pitching prospect could make it even better. If this is the year of the rookies, everyone in this league better watch out.

38 MPH Heaters

He’s probably not going to win HR and RBI each week, but everything else is looking pretty solid from this team. Also he has a lot of batters with track records so he should know what he is getting. Seven starters as well as low WHIP high K relievers give him the edge in those categories each week.

TheFightingFernandos

He has the lineup to win HR and RBI each week with ease, enough of everything else to put him in contention each week. One two punch with high K pitchers combined with great low WHIP relievers give this staff some great balance to contend.

High Cheese

Keeping two at the same infield position is never ideal, but it doesn’t hurt when one is top 5 overall and the other is top 10 at position. Has the batters to be in every category week in and week out with ease. Only rocking 5 starters and 3 relievers hurts the numbers as bit but still has a solid chance to take 4 of 7 each week if not more.

cracker jack

Do you like power? Well cracker jack sure does. Project first by a mile on HR and RBI, even doubles. Does he have enough of everything else to contend in the other four categories? With his staff he is hoping for some serious performance from some question marks or unknown people, if he gets that, could mean good things, otherwise…

Salmon Kings

I guess when you have the best player in baseball by a mile you can take some risks in the draft on some hope and prays. Everyone on his team needs to perform at peak level and nothing less to make this a lineup to be feared. A solid bullpen, with an underrated staff I believe could make this pitching better than what it seems.

SL Disappointments

He likes speed, a lot of speed. Questions at his corners could make or break this team. He has probably the best 1-3 starters in the league, followed by 2 other solid options give him a deadly rotation. Three closers boosts his saves.

Sea Bass v11.0

One of the top young 3B in the country and a great young SS followed by lots of questions. He got a great one starter in Syndergaard to complement Gray as well as a couple other great upside starters. Three holds guys lets him possibly win that category each week.

InSaNeAuDiO

Another team with lots of speed, potentially one over 50 SB, one close to 40, and another close to 30. He’s going to score runs as well and get on base. Problem is he doesn’t have a lot of people who knock in runs or hit home runs. His pitching has some questions, he does have high K starters which is always nice and a great holds man, but otherwise it isn’t too exciting.

Worst Potential SLB Commissioners, Ranked

commish

It’s not uncommon in the SLB Message Board for us to chat about the chain of command should the incumbent commissioner find himself on the wrong-end of a plane crash, hit by a bus, or dead because of his reckless approach to nutrition and health.

It’s generally been perceived that there is one logical heir to the commissionership should the aforementioned scenarios come to pass and lead to the demise of the current commish. To further clarify things, I have ranked the potential commissioners from worst to the least worst.

Consider this the inverse order of how we will divvy up commissionership upon my death.

1. G-Doggy – pays attention once every couple of months for a few days at a time. No trade would ever get approved. He has to ask me every season where his roster is and who had had on his team. He might still draft Mariano Rivera this year. Not the guy you want at the helm.

2. Grant – may actually think we’re playing fantasy football based on his track record…also he likes Rush and is rarely in attendance. I feel like, organizationally, he might have the chops for it, but I think the league would rise up and slay him a week into the job when he starts throwing down Commissioner Decrees about Quality Starts and Mt. Dew consumption.

3. Travis – he’s a god damned lunatic who wants to abolish all non-trade moves and force teams to rely entirely on how good of a draft they have and how easily they’re able to rape and pillage Grant’s team in trade talks. The league would take on a very North Korea-vibe and anyone who questioned or opposed the commissioner would likely have an “accident” and be removed from the league.

4. Morgan – the man’s sleep schedule would not mesh with angry managers prompting trade approvals, guaranteed he’d kick six or seven teams out by the All-Star break. He also has proven to be, um, volatile at times when harassed and – similar to Travis, above – it seems apparent that some of y’all would be murdered at the hands of the new commish.

5. Jay – he’s the Groundhog. That is NOT an effective way to manage a very active, very vocal league.

6. John – he’s too damn likable. People love to get mad at the commish and yell at him for things and that wouldn’t work with John. Plus, he’s the INAGURAL CHAMPION – he already has a full docket of promotional endeavors for the league that cannot be encroached upon.

7. Craiggers – if we’re being honest, I can’t imagine a world where he’d want this gig. Craiggers seems plenty content to make amazing databases and be the league’s resident tech wizard, but when the yelling starts and people need a resolution, he’s probably got half-a-bottle of whiskey in his belly and he’s disappeared into a vape cloud. That’s not his bag, baybay.

8. Collin – this is the real wild card. He is well-liked and respected in the league. He’s been around for quite some time now and has a solid handle on the league’s history. He’s responsive and active. He keeps crazy hours, especially during the season. I just can’t imagine he’d want to deal with it. He’s a chill fella. This gig does not provide chill.

9. Levi – this was a tricky one. I think Levi has the perfect temperament to handle the role, but he falls off the grid for large chunks of time and that would not work well when Travis is texting him 18 times a day to approve a trade. He also seems self-aware enough to laugh in the face of my lawyer when he offers him the role, stir his cocktail, and walk away without taking on this band of misfits as his problem.

10. Justin – similar to John, he might be too likeable for the role. He’s doesn’t have that same “scream at a room full of people” nature that Mike and Steven do, but he has the respect of the entire league and a great track record of success. He’s almost always responsive and – aside from some potential concerns about the commissioner also making 10,000 trades a year – he strikes me as one of the safest bets to avoid an uprising.

11. Adam – he’s your best non-Kunkel option. He’s online all the time, responsive, and progressive in his thinking for league improvement based on his track record in the amendments process. He’s well-respected and carries some gravitas from his coaching experience. Plus, he’s the logo guy. Logo guy always earns points.

12. Mike – he’s loud. He’s brash. He’s wildly unlikable. All of that said, he gets things done. He’ll yell over the crowd long enough to make his voice heard and he’s got loads of practice using angry dad voice when necessary.

13. Steven – he’s our guy. He’s got the organizational skills. This is based on his track record running that other league and his long-term record keeping and screen-shotting skills. He’s got just enough patience to handle all of the jerks in this league…he’s the guy.

So there you have it, the unequivocal rankings from worst to least worst.

If my plane hits a mountain or a blimp or a pterodactyl or something on the way to this year’s draft, we have an official succession plan for commissionership.

Also, in an effort to improve league diversity and inclusion, the new commissioner will be tasked with replacing my spot in the league with an under-represented minority. Racism isn’t cool.

SLB 2016 Undeniably Way Too Early Keeper Predictions

harpervstrout

It’s been a while since we got any fresh content on the ole SLBlog…so, as we draw nearer and nearer to spring training, keeper announcements, and–eventually–the 2016 SLB Draft in picturesque Marshall, Minnesota…it seems like the right time for an uneducated, completely speculative look into the future.

As such, I’ve thrown together a quick piece giving some way-way-way too early keeper predictions for each team. I know most clubs have a solid handle on who they’re likely to keep, but a lot can happen between now and the keeper declaration deadline, so these predictions could be waaaaaay off for a number of teams.

I’ve included some dark horse keeper candidates for teams as well. This was done for a number of reasons: potential injury, uncertainty at certain position, temptation to keep a hot young prospect, and/or my own indecision when attempting to choose between some players.

So, without any further ado…here are the way-way-way too early keeper predictions.

 

genies_draftlogoGenies in a Bottle


Keeper Prediction:

Mookie Betts (BOS–OF)
Kyle Schwarber (CHC–C/OF)
Carlos Carrasco (CLE–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Xander Bogaerts (BOS– SS), David Ortiz (BOS– 1B), Danny Salazar (CLE– SP), Masahiro Tanaka (NYY–SP), & Lew Ford (VEN-OF)
Draft Priority: 1

insane-audio-logoInSaNeAuDiO

Keeper Prediction:
Miguel Cabrera (DET–1B)
Todd Frazier (CHW–1B/3B)
Johnny Cueto (SF–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Charlie Blackmon (COL–OF)
Draft Priority: 2

SLDSL Disappointments

Keeper Prediction:
Miguel Sano (MIN–3B)
Dee Gordon (MIA–2B)
Chris Archer (TB–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Jose Bautista (TOR–OF) & Cole Hamels (HOU–SP)
Draft Priority: 3

captainjack003Captain Jack Sparrow

Keeper Prediction:
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA–OF)
Bryce Harper (WAS–OF)
Jose Fernandez (MIA–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Nobody, because these are his “big three for the future” and he’s going to have them as keepers for “probably the next decade.”
Draft Priority: 4

zima001ZIMA

Keeper Prediction:
Josh Donaldson (TOR–3B)
George Springer (HOU–OF)
Clayton Kershaw (LAD–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Jason Heyward (CHC–OF) & Jason Kipnis (CLE–2B)
Draft Priority: 5

seabass001Sea Bass v11.0

Keeper Prediction:
Kris Bryant (CHC–3B)
Yoenis Cespedes (TBD–OF)
Sonny Gray (OAK–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Jon Lester (CHC–SP) & Yasiel Puig (LAD–OF)
Draft Priority: 6

highcheese001High Cheese

Keeper Prediction:
Freddie Freeman (ATL–1B)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC–1B)
Stephen Strasburg (WAS–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Lance McCullers (HOU–SP) & Arodys Vizcaino (ATL–RP)
Draft Priority: 7

radioactiverush001Radioactive Rush

Keeper Prediction:
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI–1B)
Starling Marte (PIT–OF)
Matt Harvey (NYM–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Troy Tulowitzki (TOR–SS)
Draft Priority: 8

38mph00138 MPH Heaters

Keeper Prediction:
AJ Pollock (ARI–OF)
Jose Altuve (HOU–2B)
Max Scherzer (WAS–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Buster Posey (SF–C/1B), JD Martinez (DET–OF), & Noah Syndergaard (NYM–SP)
Draft Priority: 9

dome_dog_logoDome Dog

Keeper Prediction:
Andrew McCutchen (PIT–OF)
Corey Seager (LAD–SS)
Jacob deGrom (NYM–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Adam Jones (BAL–OF)
Draft Priority: 10

thefightingfernandos001TheFightingFernandos

Keeper Prediction:
Ryan Bruan (MIL–OF)
Jose Abreu (CWS–1B)
Zack Greinke (LAD–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Evan Longoria (TB–3B) & Gerrit Cole (PIT–SP)
Draft Priority: 11

mike-2015-draftmoney grubbers

Keeper Prediction:
Nolan Arenado (COL–3B)
Carlos Correa (HOU–SS)
Chris Sale (CWS–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Corey Kluber (CLE–SP) & Carlos Gonzalez (COL–OF)
Draft Priority: 12

crackerjack001cracker jack

Keeper Prediction:
Manny Machado (BAL–SS/3B)
David Price (BOS–SP)
Madison Bumgarner (SF–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Chris Davis (TBD–1B/OF), Brian Dozier (MIN–2B), & Joey Votto (CIN–1B)
Draft Priority: 13

fighting-fernandos-2015Dominators

Keeper Prediction:
Mike Trout (LAA–OF)
Francisco Lindor (CLE–SS)
Jake Arrieta (CHC–SP)

Dark Horse(s): Anthony Rendon (WAS–2B/3B) & Luis Severino (NYY–SP)
Draft Priority: 14

SLB vs MLB: Team Comparisons

SLBvsMLB

It’s once again time to match-up each member of the Salmon League with the big league counterpart.

We’ve done this a couple of times now, but give how much the landscape of the league has changed since the last comparison prior to the 2013 season, it seems like the right time for an updated look at the SLB vs MLB comparisons based on the events of the last three seasons.

Without any further ado, here are the updated SLB vs MLB Comparisons:

High Cheese = Detroit Tigers

tigers001Despite tons of success in recent years, this club is currently in an odd situation. They’re coming off an unexpected down year caused by a number of unexpected injuries and regressions. Perhaps the biggest issue was that the front office seemed – for the first time – completely unable to respond to the team’s needs last year. In previous years, they’d made splashy moves to improve the club (occasionally to the detriment of the team’s future) to push for a championship. Last year, that type of move came way too late to matter. Luckily, they still have a very solid core – albeit, one that is relying heavily on pair of mashing first baseman/DH-types – and could quickly return to the top of the league next season if everything breaks right this spring.

Radioactive Rush = Miami Marlins

Grant = MarlinsIt’s probably safe to call this one of the most frustrating clubs in the entire league. Their owner seems to have absolutely no idea what he’s doing. The only reason he even owns a team is due to nepotism. The club has some of the most talented players of an entire generation, but still can’t find a way to win. The club has historically overvalued their players and asked for far too much in trade demands leaving them empty-handed when opportunities to make beneficial moves arise. This club will likely remain in the cellar until the immense talent of the players is able to overcome the buffoonery of the front office or the current leadership steps aside and lets someone else take the reins.

Sea Bass v11.0 = Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto_Blue_Jays_1977It seems that this club has some kind of positive buzz or excitement ever year, but the results are almost never there. Despite a very brief run of success in the now quite distant past, recent years seem to be full of unfulfilled promise and broken dreams. The front office is one of the more tech savvy and analytical in the game, but those efforts haven’t translated to success on the field. This season, the club finally went big making some splashy mid-season moves, but none of those moves proved to be enough to put the club over the hump and turn them into a championship caliber team. Coming into next season, the club will be without its best pitcher from last season and needs to build around one of the best third baseman in the game.

ZIMA = Colorado Rockies

G-Doggy = RockiesGiven how established this club is, it is very easy to forget that they were once an expansion team. In the franchise’s time with the league they have had precisely one successful season that included a magical, underdog run to the championship matchup that – unfortunately – didn’t result in a win. Despite that one magical season, however, this team doesn’t appear to have that know-how to put the team over-the-top and turn this crew into regular contenders. It seems as though there is always a solid pipeline of talent, but that never seems to translate to success on the field. While injuries to key players have played a large role, it’s time to wonder if this front office needs a serious shakeup to get over the hump and make the most of the talent they have to become regular contenders.

Captain Jack Sparrow = Oakland Athletics

Oakland_Athletics13It’s tough to get a read on this club. They made the playoffs in 2013 and 2014, but faltered in 2015 despite a lot of potential. The front office is obsessed with proving its mettle and seems more focused on “winning trades” than winning championships. The club, despite plenty of recent success, always seems to be looking toward the future rather than trying to win in the present. This mindset has led to some questionable moves and currently has the club at a cross roads. While there is plenty of young talent, it’s hard to trust management will see the plan through rather than hitting the reset button at the first signs of trouble and churning over half the roster to “shake things up.”

SL Disappointment = Chicago Cubs

Chicago_Cubs303This club won a championship so long ago that it’s easy to forget that it ever even happened. Since then, the results have been less-than-impressive and the club has largely been synonymous with losing, often in heartbreaking fashion. It’s so bad that some people legitimately think this franchise is cursed!! Year after year there seems to be a glimmer of hope that the team will finally turn things around and break through to capture another championship, but it has yet to come to fruition. Despite the relative lack of success, there is a large fan base that wants this club to succeed and things are looking up as it seems that 2016 and beyond could be a great time for this club – if everything goes according to plan.

InSaNeAuDiO = WCW Monday Nitro (circa 1999)

nitro_logoThis is basically a runaway train to nowhere. The folks in charge have literally no idea what’s going on and only seem to pay attention in small spurts here and there. While they occasionally have a good idea, they’re prone to quickly forgetting to follow-up on it and letting it die on the vine rather than striking while the iron is hot. They are relying heavily on an act that – while still very solid – is growing stale and they seemingly refuse to think about or plan for the future. They seem wildly obsessed with collecting popular and successful names from days gone by rather than putting the time and effort into building toward the future. It’s not uncommon to find that they’re asleep at the wheel and have forgotten to renew the contract of one of their best performers, only to suddenly learn that he’s now an unexpected free agent. They are probably doomed.

Genies in a Bottle = Minnesota Twins

twinsA few short years ago, this club seemed to be a lock for the postseason and a dark horse championship favorite every preseason. Recent years haven’t been so kind. The club has hit some unprecedented lows leading many to wonder if the magic had finally dried up. While 2015 didn’t exactly lead the club back to the postseason, it certainly showed some promise that a return to prominence was on the way. Despite a stubborn reliance on mostly mediocre pitching and some long-in-the-tooth bats, the club made a large commitment toward youth and seems poised to continue this progression going forward as they return to contention.

38 MPH Heaters = Kansas City Royals

Kansas_City_Royals56Following years of irrelevancy and downright buffoonery, this club has turned itself into a legitimate championship caliber club over the past two seasons. Great draft day decisions, combined with a surprisingly steady and patient hand in the front office has allowed this club to stick to “the plan” despite bumps along the way. A few short years ago, this club was a laughingstock with a few good players and some very questionable direction. Fast-forward to 2016 and you’re looking at a club with a championship trophy and a very bright future where they appear poised to be in the hunt for even more success.

Dome Dog = San Francisco Giants

giants001It’s hard to predict what you’re going to get from this club. They’ve got championship caliber talent, but over the course of the last four years, when it comes to making the postseason, they’ve found themselves on the outside looking in just as often as they’ve found themselves in the hunt for another championship trophy. The front office is clearly very savvy and has made a number of shrewd moves in recent years to build upon a strong core to bounce back quickly on the heels of each of the club’s every-other-year stinkers to get back into contention. It will be interesting to see if the club can break this every-other-year trend and turn themselves into an every year powerhouse.

TheFightingFernandos = Pittsburgh Pirates

PiratesWhile this club has a history full of championships, the recent years have been something of a cruel joke. The club has exciting young stars and proves year-in and year-out to be one of the best in the league, but when the stakes are raised in the postseason, they can’t seem to get over the hump and translate their regular season success into another championship trophy. It’s hard to imagine this club won’t be competitive in the near future, but there is a definite need for some spark to put them over the top if they intend to return to the Promised Land and win another championship.

money grubbers = New York Yankees

new_york_yankeesThis club was once considered an unstoppable dynasty and still has a shelf of old trophies to gawk at, but in recent years a combination of age and some questionable front office decisions have started to show cracks in the foundation. While the club finally returned to the postseason, they were never viewed as a championship threat. It’s always good to see an old warhorse still hanging around, but it’s sad when he’s not taken as seriously as he was in his prime. The club still has the resources, but no one views them as a preseason favorite to win a championship, let alone make the postseason fray.

cracker jack = Los Angeles Dodgers

Los_Angeles_Dodgers60It’s impossible to talk about this league and not talk about this club. They are one of the most-storied franchises in the league and have a long history dotted with success and failures along the way. Recent years have seen a string of very competitive teams reach the playoffs after successful seasons, but fall short of championship time and time again. The front office is forward thinking and has no qualms about pulling the trigger on big, splashy moves that will put the club in the best position to win and win now; while making it a point to never completely mortgage the future. While they have not won a recent championship, it’s safe to say they are going to be one of the odds-on favorites year-in and year-out.

The Dominators = St. Louis Cardinals

Graves = CardinalsOMFG…we get it, you guys win, a lot. This club seems to be a perennial favorite, not just to reach the postseason, but to get there with the best record in the league and stomp the competition all the way through the championship game. They’ve got more championship trophies than they know what to do with and their front office has been operating on a whole different level in recent years that leaves this club with almost no legitimate rival in the league. No matter who this team loses to free agency, trades, or injury they always seem to pluck another diamond from the mine and continue their winnings ways. It’s very easy to hate them…oh so very easy.