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I was listening to a fantasy baseball podcast the other day and the topic of Billy Hamilton came up. An analyst on the program was talking about how in the second half of this season Hamilton has actually began to hit enough to be a useful option in all leagues. They went on to discuss how he was stealing a lot of bases and having more attempts because he was on base more often. To me it sounded like a great narrative. I thought they were on to something because of course they are experts and he was getting a lot more steals. Then I did my own research.
What I found actually surprised me, not a little, but a lot. Let me start by saying I came in to the research with the assumption that Billy Hamilton hadnât been hitting at all to start the season and that his batting average had gone way up since the first half. I was very wrong.
I started by looking at the season as a whole and trying to find a good, arbitrary, date to use to divide his stats in to two periods. While looking I came to the conclusion that I would use his disabled list stint in mid-July as the cut line. With that I looked at stats from opening day through June 8th and from June 17th to yesterday (August 24th). There is an obvious gap between June 8th and the 17th, but again that was his DL stint for a concussion.
Without telling you stolen base number I want you to look at two slash lines and see if you can guess which is the first half segment and which is the second. Slash line one is .255/.328/.319, the other is .269/.308/.394. Which one is segment one of the season and which is segment two?
Ok, time is up pencils down.
The answer is the first slash line is segment two. Surprised? I was. I never would have thought that Hamilton's batting average has been lower in the second half of the games played this year than in the first. But why are people saying he is hitting so much better in the second half, he is only getting on-base at .020 points over the first half. Yet his dramatic turnaround is what a lot of analyst are using to justify the fact that in that second half segment he has stolen 37 bases as compared to 16 in the first half. That is more than double and only a difference of eight games played. I had to dig deeper to see what was going on and because of that I found what I was looking for.
â@BBBaseball_Talk Aug 23 WOW, Now that is fast - BB Baseball Talk http://bbbaseballtalk.weebly.com/1/post/2016/08/wow-now-that-is-fast.html â¦ @Reds #Reds @BillyHamilton #MLB #Statcast
In the month of August Cincinnati has had 21 games and Hamilton has started 19 of them. He has a triple slash line of .297/.395/.365 with 18 stolen bases. Now that is a different player and one that needs to be owned in every fantasy league. If you extrapolate that over a 162 game season he would be on pace for 139 stolen bases. Wow! Question is can he keep this up? Over his four years in the majors Hamilton has a career batting average of .247 and an on-base percentage of .296, a full .099 points lower than his on-base for August.
We know that he is a speedster, just look at the recent statcast video of him getting up to 22 mph running down a fly ball. Can he, however, get on base enough to utilize his speed? If he can keep his number near what they are in August moving forward he will be a premier fantasy option similar to Dee Gordon.
Today MiLB announced that at the conclusion of the 2016 minor league season the High Desert Mavericks and Bakersfield Blaze will cease operations.
"MiLB announces realignment with two Class A Adv teams moving from Cal Lg to Carolina Lg: http://atmilb.com/2bPcCZe "
This move comes as MiLB and its's MLB affiliates look to realign franchises. Both teams will move to the Carolina League starting in 2017. High Desert Mavericks have been the High A affiliate of the Texas Rangers and been in a battle with their home city of Adelanto to keep baseball there, but with this move that battle will end and the team will now play their home games in Kinston, NC. Bakersfield Blaze, the High A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners will likely move to Fayetteville, NC, but there are other options that are being looked at. Though High Desert may have known that a change was coming after the 2016 season it appears from Bakersfield's Twitter feed that this announcement was a major surprise to employees of the team.
Bakersfield Blaze @BakoBlaze Bakersfield Blaze Retweeted MiLB.com
Another very interesting point to keep in mind with this move is that it was already rumored that the Lancaster Jethawks, the Houston Astros' High-A affiliate, was also making plans or at least exploring options to move to the Carolina League. Should the Jethawks also abandon the California League there would be only seven of the current ten teams remaining and only three teams remaining in the South Division. A mass exist of that form could leave the remaining teams wondering what the future may hold for the Cal League which was founded in 1941. One of the founding teams of the league was the Bakersfield Badgers.
On a personal note, because we are based out of Southern California it is sad to see these two teams leave. I have enjoyed many a day and night at the local minor league stadiums watching young up and coming talent play for both of these teams. They surely will be missed.
If you haven't heard the name Mitch Haniger, you may not be alone. Haniger is a 25-year-old prospect who made his MLB debut last week for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He didn't get much in the way of hype in the minor leagues this season and when he received his promotion on August 16th there wasn't much in the way of fanfare. With all that being said it may be a good idea to put Haniger on your radar.
Mitch Haniger is an outfielder who was drafted in the first round, pick 38, of the 2012 draft out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo by the Milwaukee Brewers. Haniger played in Milwaukee's minor league system until part way through 2014 when he was traded to Arizona. In his two plus years as a Brewers farm hand he didn't do anything all that impressive. His average was in the mid .200s, he had one season between Low-A and High-A that he hit 15 home runs and stole 10 bases, but again not any eye popping numbers. In 2015, his first full season in the Diamondbacks minor league system something changed however. That year he had a .310/.368/.515 slash line, hit 13 home runs in 104 games and stole 12 bases between High-A and Double-A.
As a minor leaguer in 2016 Haniger spent time at both Double-A and Triple-A before being called up. During that time, he played in 119 games, had an even better slash line of .325/.423/.588 with 24 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 86 RBIs. Some may point out that he was a little old for the levels he was playing at, but I choose to look at the glass half-full. Haniger may have just needed a little more time to grow in to his skill set, remember he was the 38th pick in 2012 and not a late rounder.
In Haniger's six games since being called up he has a .304/.385/.478 slash line with three walks and eight strikeouts. Yes, it is a small sample size, but the fact that he is maintaining his batting average success and putting the ball in play 58% of the time is a good sign. His home run power hasn't yet made an appearance, but he has had two doubles and a triple in those six games.
Haniger is not the guy you run out and get on your fantasy roster while dropping a usable player, but if you were the Giancarlo Stanton, Shin-Soo Choo, or Matt Holliday owner then you may still be looking for a bat to plug in to your outfield. If Keon Broxton, our favorite widely available outfielder isn't available in your league, then Haniger may be a good speculative add. As of right now he is available in 90% of CBSSports.com leagues.
Over the weekend Cuban superstar Yulieski Gourriel signed with the Houston Astros. This 32 year old infielder has had Twitter buzzing for a few weeks now as he worked out for multiple major league teams. We ask the question, who is Yulieski Gourriel?
Yulieski Gourriel is from Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. Gourriel, which sometimes is spelled Gurriel for some reason, is 6'0, 196 lbs, bats and throws right and can play second or third base. He has played professionally since he was 17 or since 2001. Over that time he has played in 925 games, 5,491 plate appearances, 974 runs, 1585 hits, 250 home runs, 1,018 RBIs, 121 stolen bases, 611 walks and a career slash line of .335/.417/.580. For reference purposes we can compare his slash line to Chicago White Sox player Jose Abreu while in Cuba, .341/.456/.622.
Now that Gourriel is signed he will likely report to either Triple-A or Double-A for Houston and spend around a month before we see him in the big leagues. With Altuve already cemented in as the every day second baseman for the Astros it is anticipated that Gourriel will play third base when he arrives in the big leagues. Expectations will be high as he is the biggest Cuban born star to come to the majors in years, but temper your enthusiasm as it's important to recognize that he is 32 years old and has had a layoff from facing competitive pitching. With that being said, he is a great late season speculative add in just about any fantasy league and could payoff big time if he lives up to the hype.
Earlier this week I posted the blog below on Keon Broxton, but I had to post it again because many of you have not received the memo. This kid is a speedster and if you are in a roto league he needs to be added. In the past seven games he has stolen six bases (he actually only played in six of those seven games). He has had two games in the past seven where he stole two bases in the same game. Oh and by the way he has only been caught stealing one time in 18 attempts.
Not only is Broxton full of speed, but the Brewers have shown they will run whenever they can. If you don’t believe me just look at Jonathan Villar and the amazing season he is having on the base paths. In CBSSports.com leagues Broxton is widely available with a 19% ownership rate and that needs to jump closer to 40%. Any team that is suffering for steals should snatch this guy up before your competition does.
For more on Broxton read the blog post below.
If you are still in the running in your fantasy baseball league, then you are likely looking for any player that can help get you over the finish line. Maybe you just lost Giancarlo Stanton, like me, for the season and need to find an outfielder to replace him. Of course there is no replacing Stanton, but don’t sleep on picking up Keon Broxton.
Broxton was traded to Milwaukee in the offseason by Pittsburgh and was a sleeper steals source coming in to 2016, but he struggled early in the season and ended up going down to Triple-A. Recently he found his way back to the big league club and is making the most of this opportunity. In the past 30 games Broxton is has a .367/.475/.633 slash line with seven stolen baes and two home runs. He jumps around the batting order even hitting lead-off at times. His strikeout rate has to improve to keep up what his current level of performance, but even if it only comes down a little his elite walk rate of 15.6% makes him a great on-base guy with a ton of speed.
Critics will warn you that Domingo Santana is on his way back from injury and that may cut in to playing time for Broxton, but if he continues to have a 1.108 OPS like he has over the past 30 games there is no way the Brewers can keep him out of the lineup.
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