Author Archive

FanGraphs Live: The RosterResource Show, Opening Day Eve Stream 7:30pm ET

Join us this evening at 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET for the final preseason episode of The RosterResource Show live on the FanGraphs homepage or our Twitch channel. I’ll be discussing all of the latest roster developments as teams have set their Opening Day rosters, the biggest surprises over the past few days, and potential impact players who could be called up early in the season.

As always, keeping close tabs on how each roster came together from the beginning of the offseason until Opening Day has been a blast. I hope explaining my process for managing RosterResource on this new platform has proven to be entertaining and informative. Thanks to all of you who have tuned in over the past few weeks!

I will also be joined for a live segment by Jon Becker, one of our new RotoGraphs contributors, who will be helping me at RosterResource. Read the rest of this entry »

2021 Positional Power Rankings: Third Base

This morning, RJ McDaniel previewed baseball’s second basemen. Now, Jason Martinez turns his attention to the hot corner.

There’s not a lot of certainty in this year’s crop of third basemen. The majority are bounce-back candidates, due to injury, poor performance, or both. Those in their prime and also coming off of a productive and healthy 2020 season can be counted on one hand. And there wasn’t a lot of turn over at the position this offseason, either. One player changed teams via trade, and only a few others are in line for significant playing time after signing with a new team this past winter. There are breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, and veterans who might be reaching the end of the line. All in all, it’s a good mix of current, former, and potential superstars. Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs Live: The RosterResource Show Preview Episode

In a preview of my soon-to-be-launched weekly live stream, I explain a few of our RosterResource features while also giving my thoughts on some recent roster developments and things to keep an eye on as spring training gets underway.

The live version will be focused more on roster-related questions from viewers, as well as regular explanations of how the latest news around the league has affected playing time or Opening Day roster projections.

Our RosterResource features are updated as often as necessary to keep up with baseball’s fast-moving news cycle. It’s important that our readers have multiple ways of knowing what changes are being made and why. And while it’s easy enough to just ask me a roster-related question on Twitter, this stream will allow me to answer your questions while also utilizing our RosterResource pages to help show how I came to my answer. In essence, it will be a tutorial, live chat, and roster roundup all in one. Check out the preview episode and stay tuned for the first live stream in the near future. Read the rest of this entry »

The RosterResource 2021 Opening Day Roster Tracker Is Here!

Barring a last-minute decision to push back the start of the 2021 season, we are less than two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. And while there are still several notable free agents who have yet to sign and a long list of currently unemployed players who will end up competing for a job in major league camp, we’re close enough that FanGraphs’ Opening Day Roster Tracker could already be quite useful.

Here’s a quick primer on who will be in major league camp, what happens as rosters are pared down to 26 players, and how our tracker can help you keep up between now and Opening Day.

Who Is in Major League Camp?

The full squad is comprised of each team’s full 40-man roster and a group of non-roster invitees (NRI). A non-roster invitee must be added to the 40-man roster if they break camp with the major league club.

What Happens When a Player Is Officially Out of the Running for an Opening Day Roster Spot?

If a player on the 40-man roster does not make the team, they are optioned to the minors; non-roster invitees are reassigned. They will continue to prepare for the upcoming season in minor league camp. This does not, however, completely rule them out from making the Opening Day roster. Circumstances can change, usually because of injuries, and a player can be brought back after being sent down. Read the rest of this entry »

The RosterResource Depth Charts and Payroll Pages Are Now in Offseason Mode

The RosterResource Depth Charts and Payroll pages are now officially in offseason mode, meaning that all free agents have been removed from their 2020 teams and a projected 26-man roster for Opening Day 2021 is displayed. As roster moves occur and news is reported, I’ll update these projections almost immediately and announce them on my Twitter account.

As of now, we will operate under the roster rules that were to be in place for the 2020 season prior to the league shutting down in March, meaning these projections assume a 26-man roster with a 13-pitcher limit and no designated hitter in the National League.

If you find yourself scratching your head about a particular projection, it’s very likely that you’ve discovered a team need. If you disagree with a projection, we might just have differing opinions. It’s also possible that I’m overlooking something, and would greatly appreciate hearing your opinion on the matter. Twitter is the easiest way to make a suggestion or report an error.

It’s important to note that these are Opening Day roster projections. Once we incorporate 2021 statistical projections, you will notice that certain players listed in the Minor League section have a significant amount of projected playing time and are expected to play an integral role for the upcoming season. Read the rest of this entry »

2020 Positional Power Rankings: Bullpen (No. 16-30)

Yesterday, we covered the good and the bad of the league’s rotations. Today, we turn our attention to the relievers.

Between the piggybacking, the Opener, and whatever other new strategies managers decide to test out, the 2020 version of the bullpen likely won’t be quite the same as in years past. But it will probably still feature a lot of good comeback stories, a fair number of injuries (and disappointments), and pitchers you’ve never heard of who can throw the baseball very, very hard. One of the things that makes baseball so interesting is that new talents and triumphs emerge every year, especially in a place as volatile as the bullpen.

You should take that into account, then, when assessing these rankings. Every bullpen can be good; every bullpen can be bad. And the gaps this year are sometimes rather narrow — the Reds (a contending team) and the Orioles (a… not contending team) are projected for basically the same WAR from their relievers. Things widen out at the extremes, with the Rays and Yankees both forecast to be worth about 2.0 WAR, while the Royals are due for just 0.3, but it isn’t hard to imagine some bad injury luck or a hot run shaking things up before the season’s done. Of course, some teams need a lot more things to go right than others, and those teams tend to reside here. If a squad finds itself wistfully hoping for an oft-injured closer to stay healthy, or a rookie’s surprisingly good season to repeat, or for a few too many guys to take a step forward, or pitch like they did when they were young, then it’s probably a bullpen ranked in the bottom half of the league. Unless, somehow, it proves not to be. Read the rest of this entry »

How They Got There: The 2000-2009 NL MVPs

In the decade that began shortly after the historic home run chase many believe saved the game of baseball, it’s no surprise that only one National League player with fewer than 30 homers placed in the top three of MVP voting. In 2009, Hanley Ramirez only had 24 home runs but also had a league-leading .342 batting average to go along with 42 doubles and 27 stolen bases, which pushed him into the mix for NL MVP. He finished in second place, although he didn’t receive a single first place vote.

But as much as home runs were a primary driver in measuring the decade’s hitting success, it would understate the talent of the two players who accounted for seven of the MVP awards between 2001-2009 to define them by that one statistic. They were simply two of the greatest all-around hitters to ever play the game. Here’s a look back at how those two, along with the three other NL MVPs of the 2000s, were acquired.

2000 NL MVP
Rank Name Team Age How Acquired PA HR SB OPS wRC+ WAR
MVP Jeff Kent SFG 32 Trade (CLE) Nov ’96 695 33 12 1.021 159 7.4
2nd Barry Bonds SFG 35 Free Agent (PIT) Dec ’92 607 49 11 1.127 174 7.6
3rd Mike Piazza NYM 31 Trade (FLA) May ’98 545 38 4 1.012 153 5.8

In a span of just over four years, Jeff Kent was traded three times in exchange for an All-Star. In each case, it seems unlikely that the team trading him away believed he would finish his career as a borderline Hall of Famer with 377 career homers, 560 doubles (tied for 30th all-time), and an NL MVP award. Read the rest of this entry »

How They Got There: The 1980-1989 AL Cy Young Winners

Last week, I explored how each of the National League Cy Young winners of the 1980s were acquired. Six came to their teams in trade, while two were acquired through the amateur draft and one had his contract purchased from the Mexican League. Highlighting the American League list is a 19th overall draft pick, a 19th round draft pick, and two players who are probably better known for their post-playing careers than they were for their time as big league pitchers. Here’s a look back at how the AL Cy Young winners of the 1980s were acquired.

1980 AL Cy Young
Rank Name Team Age How Acquired W L IP ERA FIP WAR
CY Steve Stone BAL 32 Free Agent (CHW) Nov’78 25 7 250.2 3.23 3.99 2.9
2nd Mike Norris OAK 25 Drafted 1st Rd (24) ’73 22 9 284.1 2.53 3.25 6.0
Rank Name Team Age How Acquired W Sv IP ERA FIP WAR
3rd Rich Gossage NYY 28 Free Agent (PIT) Nov’77 6 33 99.0 2.27 2.48 3.2

Eight years into his big league career, Steve Stone had played on just two winning teams. As a rookie in 1971, he made 19 starts for a first place Giants team with four future Hall of Famers on the roster. Six years later, he was a 15-game winner for a third place White Sox team that came won 90 games. The following season, they lost 90. A 31-year-old free agent entering the 1978-79 offseason, Stone had plenty of suitors. Playing for a winning ball club was certainly a top priority, which made his decision to sign a four-year, $760,000 contract with the Baltimore Orioles an unsurprising one. Read the rest of this entry »

How They Got There: The 1980-1989 NL Cy Young Winners

If you want to get an idea of how high the bar is to become a Hall of Fame pitcher, consider that only two of the 17 Cy Young winners from the 1980s have been inducted. One, Steve Carlton, is a four-time winner whose career spanned three decades. The other, Rollie Fingers, was one of the better relievers in the game throughout his 16-year career.

Those not in the Hall of Fame had a shorter span of greatness, even if only one year. Temporarily unlocking that Cy Young ability can come down to a change of scenery, a strong supporting cast, or working with a new pitching instructor. In other words, being in the right place at the right time. Here’s a look back at how the NL Cy Young winners of the 1980s were acquired.

1980 NL Cy Young
Rank Name Team Age How Acquired W L IP ERA FIP WAR
CY Steve Carlton PHI 35 Trade (STL) Feb’72 24 9 304.0 2.34 2.42 8.8
2nd Jerry Reuss LAD 31 Trade (PIT) Apr’79 18 6 229.1 2.51 2.99 4.6
3rd Jim Bibby PIT 35 Free Agent (CLE) Mar’78 19 6 238.1 3.32 3.82 2.6

At the time, St. Louis Cardinals lefty Steve Carlton and Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Rick Wise were in very similar situations. Both were All-Stars in their mid-20s who wanted to be paid a higher salary than their respective teams were offering for the 1972 season. Players didn’t yet enjoy a right to free agency. If a player held out for his preferred salary, he might find himself sitting out part of the season, or on the trading block; very rarely did teams submit to a player’s salary demands. Read the rest of this entry »

How They Got There: The 1980-1989 AL MVPs

Last week, I explored how the NL MVPs of the 1980s were acquired. Two homegrown players, Dale Murphy, and Mike Schmidt won half of the awards. While the AL list primarily consists of homegrown talent, there are still some interesting story lines. A pair of veteran relievers, the 493rd player drafted in 1979, and a former Rule 5 draft pick are among the AL highlights. Here’s a look back at how each was acquired.

1980 AL MVP
Rank Name Team Age How Acquired PA HR SB OPS wRC+ WAR
MVP George Brett KCR 27 Drafted 2nd Rd (29) ’71 515 24 15 1.118 198 9.1
2nd Reggie Jackson NYY 34 Free Agent (BAL) Nov’76 601 41 1 .995 169 5.0
Rank Name Team Age How Acquired W Sv IP ERA FIP WAR
3rd Rich Gossage NYY 28 Free Agent (PIT) Nov’77 6 33 99.0 2.27 2.48 3.2

As mentioned in last week’s How They Got There: The 1980-1989 NL MVPs, George Brett was taken one pick before Mike Schmidt early in the second round of the 1971 amateur draft. Although Brett was selected out of high school (El Segundo High School in California) at age 17 and Schmidt was a 21-year-old from Ohio University, their careers took similar paths that ended with near unanimous inductions into the Hall of Fame. Both converted shortstops, they would each win MVP awards nine years later as third basemen. While Schmidt’s Phillies defeated the Royals to win the World Series that year, Brett would get his World Series ring five years after. Read the rest of this entry »