“Sauer Notes” Detroit Tigers Outlook 2016
This week we will take a venture through the cages of the Tigers. After making four straight postseason appearances and even one World Series run, it all came to a halt in 2015 as the Tigers finished last in the AL Central with an 74-87 record. It seemed that these once formidable fierce cats were shipped off to Indonesia at the Surabaya Zoo, where the zoo caught repugnant media attention after word got out that they were feeding their tigers with meat laced with formaldehyde.
The Tigers’ hurlers of last season were a mangled mess and a pivotal component of the team’s ultimate demise. Their pitching staff allowed 98 more runs than 2014, and 179 more than 2013. Their deterioration on the pitching side was due a brutal bullpen and the loss of two aces over the last two seasons (Max Scherzer and David Price). This year SP Justin Verlander is expected to be their top pitcher after re-encompassing his elite form over the last half of 2015. Detroit signed SP Jordan Zimmermann to take over as the number two starter. They need SP Daniel Norris to take a step forward. SP Mike Pelfrey was added for veteran depth at the back of the rotation.
The Tigers had a dismal 4.64 ERA last season, which was a full third of a run lower than the 14th place team. Their bullpen only managed 35 saves. Closer, Francisco Rodriguez was brought in to take over the 9th inning via a trade with the Brewers for IF Javier Betancourt. In addition, Detroit revamped their bullpen depth by adding free agent RP Mark Lowe and trading for RP Justin Wilson. All of this being said, let’s first dive into what we can expect from the pitching staff heading into this season.
- Justin Verlander- Verlander started the 2015 season on the DL with a triceps injury in his right arm, which forced him to miss 10 weeks of the season. He had three disaster starts (20 runs and 29 base runners in 15.1 innings with 11 Ks) over his first six starts. He pitched extremely well in seven of his next eight starts (1.53 ERA with 53 Ks in 58.2 innings) to get his ERA (3.40) back in line. Over his last 15 starts of the year, Verlander had a 2.80 ERA with 95 Ks in 103 innings. His walk rate (1.8) came in a robust fashion during this stretch. On the year, he had a unyielding walk rate (2.2) with a step back in his K rate (7.6) due to his slow start. His average fast ball (92.8) had more life than 2014 (92.3), but it remains well below his career average (94.3). His slider (2.07 BAA) gained back value, while we witnessed a juxtaposition in his changeup (.289) that lost value. Batters had less success vs. his curveball (.209) and a resurgence in the value of his fastball (.233 – .283 in 2014). His arm had the most success against LH batters (.216 with eight HRs in 259 at bats) with strength vs. righties (.244). Verlander has a career 3.52 ERA with two seasons with a sub 3.00 ERA (2011 – 2.40 and 2012 – 2.64). His success over his last 15 starts suggests that his arm can have elite value again. But he does have some underlying risk due to his recent failure in 2014 and his forearm issue in 2015. 15 wins with a sub 3.50 ERA and 200+ Ks are possible. It’s hard to believe Verlander is the 33rd pitcher drafted with an ADP of 123 (composite ADP from five sources all generated on fantasy pros.com). This ADP has him ranked behind teammate Jordan Zimmerman which is highly questionable, and if you believe in his second half of last season, do not be afraid to go up and grab him earlier than where you may see him ranked.
- Jordan Zimmerman- Zimmerman parlayed five solid seasons in Washington (66-43 with a 3.14 ERA and 784 Ks in 972.2 innings) into a lucrative five year $110 million contract with the Tigers. His biggest asset remains his low walk rate (1.7), while his K rate (7.3) slid back to his career average after tantalizing owners with more upside in 2014 (8.2). Last year he allowed two runs or fewer in 19 of his 33 starts with four disaster games (25 runs and 36 base runners in 16.2 innings with 18 Ks). Over his last 17 starts, Zimmermann had a 4.15 ERA with 95 Ks in 102 innings. His atrophy over this period was a spike in HRs allowed (19 — 1.7 per 9) compared to only five allowed over his first 99.2 innings. He had a much tougher time with lefties (.284 with 13 HRs in 395 at bats) with a decline in walks (28 of 39 allowed). He retained his value against RH batters (.243). His average fast ball (93.0) was almost one mph under his prior three seasons. His slider (.227 BAA) remained his number two pitch followed by a plus curveball (.198 BAA). His HR/FB rate (10.9) was his worst since 2010, plus his FB rate (36.2) is trending upward. The change to the AL will lower his upside. As well, insofar as he wasn’t quite right in 2015,we wonder if he was not nursing a lurking injury based on his spike in HRs late in the year. He continues to throw a high percentage of strikes so his regression should be minimal. Projected to have an approximate 3.50 ERA with a chance to be an edge in wins and 150 K, owners may overvalue him on draft day. This is manifested insofar as he has a higher ADP than Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander.
- Anibal Sanchez- Sanchez saw his season end in mid August with an inflammation in his right rotator cuff. In mid September, he had a platelet-rich plasma injection after the always dreaded trip to see Dr. Andrews. With no structural damage, Sanchez should be ready for spring training. His AFB (91.9) had declined in back-to-back seasons. He threw his four-seam fastball (.292 BAA), slider (.278), curveball (.255), and cutter (.289) with less value, while having success with his changeup (.226) and sinker (.168). His arm held value against lefties (.217) with failure against RH batters (.291 with a .537 SLG). He had only one month of value (June – 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA with 27 Ks in 37.2 innings).He allowed more hits than innings pitched in his other four months, with weakness in ERA (5.46, 5.97, 4.55, and 7.52). He has a solid major league resume (80-74 with a 4.99 ERA), but it’s tough buying a damaged arm even at a discount. His spring training will be the key to his value on draft day. For me personally, go ahead and let another owner take a nab on these damaged goods, and only take action if he becomes a five-finger discount.
- Daniel Norris- The Blue Jays gave Norris five starts in April with reasonable success (3.86 ERA with 18 Ks in 23.1 innings). His lack of command (12 walks) earned him a trip back to AAA where he never found his stride (3-10 with a 4.27 ERA and a poor walk rate [4.1]). After a mid summer trade to the Tigers, Norris had an eight start audition in the majors in August and September. He pitched like he belonged at the major league level (3-0 with a 2.86 ERA and 33 Ks in 44 innings). Over four seasons in the minors, he had a 19-23 record with a 4.08 ERA and 384 Ks in 348.1 innings. His final stats in the majors (3.75 ERA and 1.20 whip and underwhelming 6.8 K/9) can possibly foreshadow some potential upside, especially if he can replicate the strikeout rate which he exuded in the minors. His walk rate (2.9) was much better in Detroit (1.7). His standout season came in 2014 over three levels (12-2 with 2.53 ERA and 163 Ks in 124.1 innings). His average fast ball (91.9) wasn’t an edge (.287 BAA with a .575 SLG). He threw a slider (.286 and .500 SLG) as his number two pitch; moreover, he had more success with his changeup (.226) and curveball (.143). He has a developing arm that presents some upside as well as some disaster risk. It’s really tough to trust that he’s ready to take a huge step forward in the majors with his weak command. On the positive side, Norris had success vs. righties in the majors (.226). Norris is hovering as the 120th pitcher, give or take, and with an ADP of 330, he may me found on the waiver wire post-draft depending on league size.
- Mike Pelfrey- The wily old veteran who struggled for the majority of last season with the Twins, he managed to sign a two-year $16 million contract with the kitties. Over his first 11 starts he had an impressive 2.28 ERA and elated those who drafted him. Soon after, disaster struck making his first 11 starts seem like an oasis seen while trekking the Sahara desert, recording two disaster starts over his next four games (16 runs and 26 base runners in 5.2 innings). Overall, he allowed two runs or less in 17 of his 30 starts with four total disaster starts (27 runs and 44 base runners with 13.1 innings – all on the road). He struggles with both RH (.297) and LH (.312) batters with poor command vs. lefties (40 walks in 298 at bats and 41 strikeouts). Pelfrey had a huge home (2.61 ERA) and away (5.93 ERA) split. His K rate (4.7) has to be the worst in the majors. His average fast ball (93.3) came in over his career average (92.5). He threw a split finger fastball as his number two pitch followed by a slider and a low level curveball. Batters hit ..333 vs. his sinker, .321 vs. his slider, and .333 vs. a curveball. Can’t get lefties out, can’t strikeout batters, and he is too easy to hit. Your best course of action would be leaving him off your cheat sheet.
- Francisco Rodriguez (CL)- After a couple of rough seasons in saves, Rodriguez raised his game with the Brewers in 2014 and 2015 (2.66 ERA with 82 SVs and 135 Ks in 125 innings). His walk rate (1.7) really blossomed in 2015 after showing risk for much of his career (3.6). Batters only hit .189 against him with strength against righties (.172) and lefties (.206). He pitched well in each month except August (6.10 ERA with three HRs in 10.1 innings). His AFB (89.6) continues to fade with three straight years of regression. He threw his changeup (.097) a career high 42.8 percent of the time, which almost matched his fastball (45.0). His curveball (.167 BAA) remains effective even with less usage. Rodriguez becomes well below average when forced to throw his four-seam fastball (.371 with a .714 SLG) and sinker (.316). He has 386 career saves with the best command of his career. His K rate (9.8) remains strong enough to get solid strikeouts if he appears in more games. If you are looking for just saves, he should get the job done. His value should have some regression in the American League. Possible 40 saves with below 75 Ks.
- Mark Lowe (RP)- Lowe has pretty much been a failure in the majors in his career prior to 2015. He is 9-24 with a 3.80 ERA with 303 Ks in 336.1 innings. At the same time, he hasn’t been much better in the minors (4.35 ERA and 1.351). Somehow he put it all together in 2015 in the majors (1.96 ERA with 61 Ks in 55 innings). His success was tied to a career best walk rate (2.0) leading to spike in his K rate (10.0). Lowe regained his fastball (95.5) while featuring a plus slider (.177 BAA). His resume of success is short, but his arm has enough strength to pitch late in games if his skill set is repeated in 2016.
- Bruce Rondon (RP)- Rondon turned in a worthless season in 2015 after having TJ surgery in 2014. He had a huge walk rate (5.5) while still having success striking out batters (10.5 K rate). He converted five of his nine saves chances. Rondon finished with a 3.12 ERA in September, but he walked eight batters. His AFB (97.7) was elite, but a step below his 2013 season (99.3). His slider was a plus pitch (.109 BAA), but it has less value when he pitches behind in the count. Batters crushed his fastball (.356 BAA with a .610 SLG). In his minor league career, he had a 2.64 ERA with 267 Ks in 238.1 innings. His walk rate (4.9) in the minors has been an asset. Live arm who needs plenty of experience before making his journey into the 9th inning.
Lineup Outlook for 2016
The Tigers finished 10th in the American League in runs (689) and 11th in HRs (151). The Tigers did a nice job addressing their weaknesses in the offseason. The Tigers acquired OF Cameron Maybin in a trade with the Braves for P Ian Krol and P Gabe Speier. They signed C Jarrod Saltalamacchia and IF Mike Aviles to upgrade their bench. In mid January, Detroit added more beef (not laced with formaldehyde) to their offense by signing OF Justin Upton for $132.75 million over six season. The top of their batting order is the team’s strength, but ultimately their success or demise falls on the starting rotation. The key for 2016 will be this team gelling with better chemistry.
- Ian Kinsler (2B)- Kinsler has surprisingly played four full seasons out of his last five in the aftermath of being tagged injury prone in the early stages of his career. His batting average (.296) came in as his highest season since 2008 (.319), which was a result of a spike in his line-drive rate (25.4). His lack of power is tied to a fading HR/FB rate (5.0) with four straight years of regression (2011 – 12.5, 2012 – 7.9, 2013 – 6.7, and 2014 – 6.5). Earlier in his career, he was more of a fly-ball hitter (2009 – 54.0). His swing has become a little more balanced over the last four seasons. His low K rate (11.9) remains his most superlative asset, but his walk rate (6.4) has had some regression in the last two years after being above the league average earlier in his career. He had similar success against righties (.294) and lefties (.305). Most of his loss of power came over the first half of 2015 (.261 with two HRs, 31 RBI, and six SBs in 299 at bats). Over the second half of the year, Kinsler regained his elite form (.328 with nine HRs, 42 RBI, and four SBs in 326 at bats). The days of 30 HRs are long gone as his bat looks to have lost its “pop” that we once witnessed. He remains a solid major league hitter with his batting average being an asset. He has 100+ run upside and his HRs should move back into the 15 to 20 range with respectable RBI for his position. His speed looks like a fading part of his game so I’d set the bar at 10 to 15 SBs. Kinsler is expected to bat leadoff for Detroit which will forecast increased productivity in 2016. This will also be boosted by the offseason acquisition of Justin Upton, followed by former Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, and the home run machine J.D Martinez. Insofar as he will lead off in what should be a potent offense and he will play a middle infield position with scarce value, do not be afraid to nab him a little bit earlier than his current ADP of 83.
- Justin Upton (OF)- Over the last eight years in the majors, Upton has been a very valuable major league player with a nice power-speed combo which fantasy owners yearn for. He’s never been able to take the next step to elite run producer. His K rate (25.7) has had more risk than reward in most seasons, while coming in above his career average (24.0) in each of the last three seasons. His walk rate (11.0) shows strength and it may give him an opportunity to hit in front of Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers lineup is a tough puzzle to decipher, although it may exhibit an embarrassment of riches. They really don’t have a true leadoff hitter and they have three power bats competing for the 4th and 5th slot in the batting order. Upton makes the most sense to move to second in the order due to his speed and walks. Hitting in front of Miggy would lead to Upton seeing better pitches to hit if he had some growth at the plate. In 2015, Upton was league average against RH pitching (.266 with 23 HRs and 71 RBI in 432 at bats). His bat lost value vs. lefties (.191 with three HRs and 10 RBI in 110 at bats). After a fast start in April and May (.307 with 12 HRs, 37 RBI, and 10 SBs), his swing went astray in June and July (.182 with six HRs, 19 RBI, and seven SBs in 165 at bats). Upton battled an oblique issue in July, a thumb problem in August, and a neck issue in September. His swing path has changed to where he now hits more fly balls (44.1) with three straight years of increases. His HR/FB rate (15.2) was a step below his success over the previous two years (17.9), while falling in line with his career average (15.0). He is a talented player who tends to deliver production below his expected value. Nevertheless, Upton’s skill set has enough upside where a 30/100/15 with a neutral average is not a far-fetched projection. In 2016, 3o dingers and a career high in runs are possible especially if he bats second in the lineup.
- Miguel Cabrera (1B)- After 11 straight years with a lot of playing time, Cabrera missed 42 games in 2015 due a lingering bad left calf injury, which lead to five weeks on the DL. He had an ankle issue at the end of spring training that didn’t cost him any playing time in April. Over the first three months of the year, Cabrera hit .349 with 15 HRs and 53 RBI in 269 at bats. This success put him in line for another MVP candidate type season. When he returned in August, he wasn’t the same player (.316 with only three HRs and 22 RBI in 151 at bats). His swing continues to show strength vs. lefties (.313 with five HRs and 18 RBI in 80 at bats) and righties (.344 with 13 HRs and 58 RBI in 349 at bats). His RBI rate (19) remained an edge. His FB rate (32.7) was a career low and it has regressed in back-to-back seasons. His HR/FB rate (15.8) came in well below his career average (18.8) for the second straight year. We are talking a former Triple Crown winner here with a great major league resume with a huge edge in batting average, power, and RBI when healthy. But,insofar as his down 2015 could lead to a discount in 2016, Cabrera could be a solid value pick. He has an excellent chance at a plus batting average with 35+ HRs and 110+ RBI. He is poised to have a bounce back season, and just remember this guy was being drafted with the Trouts, Harpers, and Goldys before his injury plagued season. Do not be afraid to pull the trigger if he falls to you in the first round, and unless you are drafting with kindergartners he should not make it to the second round.
- Victor Martinez (DH)- V-Mart ended up being a bust in 2015 after he flourished in the 2014 season (.335 with 32 HRs and 103 RBI). His molasses-like start over the first six weeks (.216 with one HR and 15 RBI in 111 at bats) was due to a left knee injury that didn’t require surgery. When he returned to the starting lineup a month later, his swing started to revitalize itself. Over the last three months of the year, Martinez hit .244 with nine HRs and 39 RBI. He had a tough time batting left handed vs. RH pitching (.219 with 10 HRs and 49 RBI in 351 at bats). He swung the bat well against lefties (.348), but he only managed one HR in 89 at bats. His K rate (10.7) fell in line with his career average with regression in his walk rate (6.4). His HR/FB rate (7.2) was in line with his 2011 (7.3) and 2013 (7.2) seasons, but well below his breakout power season in 2014 (16.0). We have an aging player with what some call a trap season (2014) that will lure fantasy owners to call his name on draft day. The fact that he did not have surgery on his knee can be a cause of worry as it may linger into the 2016 season. His approach points to an edge in batting average, but his power has limited upside with questions with his HR/FB rate. Batting behind Cabrera will give him plenty of RBI chances. Don’t overpay for a full rebound. There is a chance he hits for .300, 15 homers, and 80 RBI, but it’s up to you on taking on the risk.
- JD Martinez (OF)- Martinez had another improved season rather than the regression many predicted for him in 2015. He improved on his 2014 (19.5) HR/FB rate to a slightly better (20.8). His sustained his rise in power by a change in his swing path, which led to a spike in his FB rate (43.5 – 36.8 in 2014). His walk rate (8.1) showed growth, but he continues to swing and miss at a high rate (27.1 — a career high). Martinez possesses symmetrical power vs. both RH (.286 with 28 HRs and 77 RBI in 479 at bats) and LH (.265 with 10 HRs and 25 RBI in 117 at bats) pitching. He was dominant in June, July, and August (.303 with 25 HRs and 65 RBI in 290 at bats). His only down month was May (.273 with three HRs and seven RBI in 99 at bats). Martinez was a solid hitter in the minors (.332), but he only had 54 HRs in 1,293 at bats with 248 RBI. This season he is the 12th outfielder off the board with an ADP of 33 according to the composite rankings given on fantasypros.com. His power is impressive and he had a huge contact batting average over the last two years (2014 – .441 and 2015 – .402). There is no doubt Martinez can hit and it is supported by his minor league resume. It’s just baffling to see such an increase in his power numbers since coming to the bigs. Some may be quick to write him off as a sudden stroke of luck (pun intended) or suggest that steroids were a factor. But it takes a lot of hand eye coordination to produce his elite success. He should have regression in batting average due to his high K rate, but his power should be strong enough to replicate another 30 HR season to go along with solid RBI production.
- Nick Castellanos (3B)- Castellanos became a much better hitter with runners on base in 2015 (RBI – 17), but his approach was not conclusive of any growth. His K rate (25.6) was higher than his rookie season (24.2) while his walk rate (6.6) fell in a tight range (6.2). After a relatively quiet first three months (.233 with four HRs and 28 RBI in 258 at bats), Castellanos flashed his elite upside in July and August (.272 with 11 HRs and 35 RBI in 184 at bats) before fading in September as far as power (no HRs in 107 at bats while hitting .280). His bat had growth and high value vs. lefties (.351 with five HRs and 20 RBI in 114 at bats). For him to take a step to the next level, he needs to solve RH pitching (.230 with 10 HRs and 53 RBI in 435 at bats). His swing path produced fewer line drives (23.3 – 28.5 in 2014) leading to a spike in his HR/FB rate (40.4). His HR/FB rate (9.2) had growth from 2014 (7.5). Castellanos hit .303 over four seasons in the minors with 35 HRs, 212 RBI, and 15 SBs in 1,601 at bats. He has intriguing upside if he can improve his K rate. His swing path looks ready to produce a 20/80 type season with more upside with growth in his approach. His batting average doesn’t look ready to become an asset. Possible third year breakout player.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C)- Salty started 2015 in the doghouse after Spring Training, leading to only 29 at bats in April (.069 with one HR). This led to a trade to the Diamondbacks and a trip back at AAA. He was unimpressive in 32 at bats at AAA (.188 with two HRs and seven RBI), but he still received a call to the majors in late May. His bat had no success in the majors in June (.195 with one HR and four RBI in 47 at bats) leading to Wellington Castillo latching onto the lead catching role in Arizona. Salty landed on the DL for a couple of weeks in July with a neck issue. Saltalamacchia played his best ball in September (.308 with five HRs and 13 RBI in 52 at bats). His K rate (30.4) was in line with his major league resume while being a huge liability. Over the last two years, his walk rate (10.1) has been become more of as asset. In his career, he has been a better hitter against RH pitching (.251 with a .447 SLG). In limited at bats in 2015 vs. lefties, Salty hit .293 with three HRs and four RBI in 41 at bats. His swing tends to produce fly balls (47.7 in 2015 – 42.7 in his career). His HR/FB rate (14.3) remains strong. He has 20+ HR power if he is able to get 450 at bats while inviting huge batting average risk. His power should be the edge that gives him the bulk of playing time at catcher vs. RH pitching. Possible 15/60 season with a sub .250 BA.
- Cameron Maybin (OF)- After a couple of poor seasons due to injuries, Maybin played reasonably well in 2015. The Tigers drafted Cameron with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft. Detroit traded him to the Marlins prior to the 2008 season. His K rate (18.4) and walk rate (8.1) moved to the league average range. Last season Maybin set career highs in HRs (10), and RBI (59). Almost all of his production came in May, June, and July (.284 with five HRs, 42 RBI, and 15 SBs in 299 at bats). Cameron struggled in April (.175 with three HRs and five RBI) leading to only 40 at bats. His bat faded over the last two months of the year (.259 with two HRs, 12 RBI, and six SBs in 166 at bats) with some missed games in September due an eye issue. He hit just above the league average vs. righties (.276 with seven HRs, 49 RBI, and 17 SBs in 387 at bats) with some failure against LH pitching (.237 with three HRs and 10 RBI in 118 at bats). Maybin had a nice rebound in his HR/FB rate (12.3 – 8.8 in his career), but he set a career low in his FB rate (20.0). His swing produces a high number of ground balls (57.9). He has a quality pedigree, but he’s never lived up to his potential. His swing path is fading, which restricts his upside in power. His approach is strong enough to get leadoff at bats if he is playing well. Possible uptick in speed with only 10 HR power and short RBI. He skill set isn’t strong enough to earn a full time job if he struggles.
- Jose Iglesias (SS)- Iglesias’ season ended before it started in 2014. He had stress fractures in both legs, which led to no games played at any level. Last season Iglesias finished with a solid batting average (.300), but his average hit (AVH – 1.232) was barely over a single. His K rate (9.7) took a huge step forward from his 2013 season (15.7) while his walk rate (5.5) remained in a weak area even with a slight uptick. Over the first four months, he hit .319 with 31 runs, two HRs, 20 RBI, and 10 SBs in 310 at bats. His season ended in early September due a fractured finger on his right hand. His bat had the most value vs. lefties (.354 with one HR, 11 RBI, and two SBs in 99 at bats) with above the league success against RH batters (.284 with one HR, 12 RBI, and nine SBs in 317 at bats). Iglesias has a HR/FB rate (2.4) that barely has a pulse. His swing produces a huge number of ground balls (55.9 – 56.4 in his career). Let’s call him less than a Judy. His low K rate and swing path leads to an edge in batting average, but he’ll kill you in three other categories with speed being his only possible asset. Real tough start in all Fantasy formats without a huge spike in steals. Only a short term injury replacement.
- Anthony Gose (OF)- The Tigers gave Gose the best opportunity of his career in 2015, which led to mixed results. His K rate (27.1) remains a huge liability for player with his Judy type skill set. His walk rate (8.4) was league average. Anthony set career highs in at bats (485), runs (73), hits (123), HRs (five), RBI (26) and SBs (23). His RBI rate (8) is one of the weakest in the majors. In his minor league career, Gose hit .259 with 37 HRs, 236 RBI, and 271 SBs in 2588 at bats. He had no value vs. lefties (.192 with no HRs and two RBI in 73 at bats) while grading as league average against RH pitching (.265 with five HRs, 24 RBI, and 21 SBs in 412 at bats). Over the last two months of 2015 with solid at bats, Anthony hit .240 with four HRs, 15 RBI, and 11 SBs in 198 at bats. He is high GB hitter (54.0 in 2015 and 56.4 in his career) with a weak HR/FB rate (6.2). I don’t see Gose as a full time player and his game points to a speed option off the bench. His speed should be intriguing due to two 70 or more SB seasons on his minor league resume, but his success rate (72.8) is not better than league average. Maybin has a much better skill set with a higher ceiling so Gose won’t offer any long term upside in 2016.
- James McCann (C)- Over four seasons in the minors McCann hit .266 with 18 HRs, 154 RBI, and 17 SBs in 1,286 at bats. Last year he was given a better than expected opportunity with the Tigers due to the struggles and injury to Alex Avila. His success (.264 with seven HRs and 41 RBI) fell in line with his minor league career. His K rate (21.2) and walk rate (3.8) both came in below his minor league resume (K rate – 18.1 and walk rate – 5.4). His swing had the most value against lefties (.320 with four HRs and 14 RBI in 97 at bats) with a strong slugging percentage (.557). McCann had some downside risk vs. RH pitching (.247 with three HRs and 27 RBI in 304 at bats). He only had one HR in five different months in 2015 with his most success coming in July (.356 with two HRs and nine RBI in 59 at bats). McCann tends to be a GB hitter (49.4) restricting his upside in his power. Low upside player with his game pointing to a platoon role with more failure risk if Jarod Saltalamacchia regained his previous success.
- Michael Fulmer (RHP)- Pitching in the shadow of some of the young guns in the Mets system, Fulmer emerged and put himself firmly on the prospect map with a breakout 2015 season. The Tigers noticed and the right-hander was the key prospect to come in the Yoenis Cespedes deal. Fulmer’s stuff and his command took steps forward in 2015. He kept his sinking fastball, which easily reaches the mid-90s, down in the zone and induced a lot of ground-ball outs. His slider is a swing-and-miss pitch and he mixes in an average curveball as well. His changeup is fringy, but it gives him a fourth look to offer hitters. Fulmer has improved his walk rate every year and could have above-average command when all is said and done. There isn’t much more Fulmer needs to do in the Minor Leagues. The Tigers should see a big league return for the Cespedes deal in the near future. Once thought to be a bullpen candidate, he now has the chance to be a mid-rotation standout.
- Beau Burrows (RHP)- Heading into the 2015 Draft, many felt Burrows was a late first-rounder or even a second-round candidate. That included Burrows himself, who was pleasantly surprised when the Tigers swooped in with the 22nd overall pick to take him. Detroit gave him full pick value of just over $2.1 million to sign him away from Texas A&M. The Tigers love big arms and this Texas high school standout definitely has that, with a plus fastball that sits consistently in the 94-95 mph range. He’s almost all power all the time, including his hard breaking curve, which is a plus pitch at times for him. As with many high schoolers, he didn’t need a changeup much during his amateur days, but he’s shown some feel for it and it should be at least Major League average in time. His size (standing in at 6-foot-2) and his delivery have some feeling he could end up in a bullpen. But he has all the ingredients to succeed as a starter. Burrows has already impressed with his competitive nature on the mound. The Tigers are excited to see how he makes adjustments and finds consistency as his pro career begins in earnest.
- Derek Hill (OF)- When the Tigers took Hill, the son of the former Minor Leaguer and current Dodgers scout Orsino Hill, in the first round of the 2014 Draft, they thought they were getting the perfect combination of tools, bloodlines and feel for the game. His injury-interrupted first full season gave glimpses of ability, but also made it clear the outfielder has a long way to go. The fastest player in the system, Hill’s speed impacts the game on both sides of the ball. He is a true center fielder who will stay there long term and provide plus defense. Despite a quad injury, he managed to steal 25 bases in just 53 games in 2015. The big question about Hill is his bat. He has a good swing at times, but needs to add strength to find consistent success at the plate. His frame should support added strength and there is hope he can develop enough power to keep pitchers honest and run into eight to 10 homers annually. Power, in the end, won’t be a huge part of his game. Hill’s ability to learn how to be a top-of-the-order catalyst and to stay healthy will be the keys to his success in the future.________________________________________________________________________________________
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday March 17th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #4 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. We will discuss player positions and help prepare you for the coming draft season. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss everything fantasy and MLB related in the N.L. East.
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday March 20th, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will break down everything fantasy and MLB relevant for the N.L. Central division.
Our guests this week are Andy Macuga and Phil Weiss. Andy is the head baseball coach at Borrego Springs H.S. in Southern California, and a veteran owner in MLFS leagues. Phil Weiss’s resume includes working as a CPA with a large public accounting firm as well as private industry (Fortune 500), specializing in international corporate tax planning. Also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Chief Financial Analyst for Independent RIA, responsible for individual securities held in client accounts.
Frequent guest on CNBC and Bloomberg television. Multiple appearances on Bloomberg radio, local and national radio.
Regularly quoted in Wall Street Journal, Reuters, New York Times, AP, thestreet.com, local news, Financial Times
Fantasy Baseball Experience:
Seasoned fantasy player since college and also a Major League Fantasy Baseball team owner for 3 years.