Wow. The Cardinals finished an unbelievable run to win the 2011 World Series, after being down to their last strike twice on Thursday night. MLB wants to expand the playoffs to include another team. Why? You cannot top the 2011 playoffs and the September wildcard races leading into the playoffs.
I am planning a few articles on Albert Pujols next week and wonder if after the performance of guys like David Freese and Allen Craig if the Cardinals will allow Pujols to walk. Freese hit .397-.465-.797 with 5 HRs and 21 RBI in 63 postseason at bats. In the regular season, he hit just 10 HRs and drove in 55 runs in just 97 games. If he can stay injury-free in 2012, he could put up some solid numbers manning third base for the Cardinals.
John Sickels from Minor League Ball posted this Prospect Retrospective on Freese yesterday. Check it out.
Jason Motte has certainly increased his fantasy value in September and in the playoffs, as he has solidified his status as the St. Louis closer. But, he gave up 4 runs, 3 earned runs in his 4.1 World Series innings, after throwing 5.2 shutout innings in the NLDS and NLCS. In 10 postseason innings, he struck out 6 and walked just one batter, after posting a 63-16 K/BB rate in 68 regular season innings.
Here is a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden on closer Jason Motte after the Cardinals win last night:
Tony LaRussa just told Jason Motte he is officially the closer...Motte just told us during the celebration.
Tony LaRussa used the hot man in the bullpen all year long, and I don't see that changing in 2012. Fantasy owners should watch the performance of Motte and Lance Lynn in spring training as Lynn put up a better K rate than Motte in 2011, albeit in less innings. Lynn struck out 10.38 batters per nine innings in 2011 with an excellent ground ball rate of 57.3%, two great skills to have for a reliever, or starter for that matter. He also owned a swinging strike rate of 9.4%.
More fantasy baseball thoughts after the jump:
During the regular season, Allen Craig his .315-.362-.555 with 11 HRs and 40 RBI in just 200 at bats, and hit 4 HRs and 8 RBI in the postseason. Craig played everywhere on the field in 2011 except for shortstop and catcher, but mainly played in the outfield. I wonder if he will be the everyday right fielder in 2011 should Albert Pujols leave via free agency? If Albert stays, Craig will probably play everywhere again in 2012. What can he do with a regular season worth of at bats? He hit .322-.374-.547 with 26 HRs and 83 RBI. I don't see him hitting .322 again, but could see 20 HRs and 75 RBI from him in 2012.
I saw this tweet from ESPN's Jason Grey on Nationals prospect Bryce Harper:
#Nationals Bryce Harper continuing to heat up in AFL - massive bomb to dead center -probably 430-440 ft.; homered in three games in a row
Harper in Washington by June 2012?
"I had a good conversation with a scout that follows the Pirates and their system extensively and has seen a lot of Alvarez in both the minors and the majors this season. His assertion is that while Alvarez has struggled to make adjustments, it goes a little deeper than that. His opinion is that Alvarez has tried too hard to be something he's not. Alvarez is and always has been a dead pull hitter. This scout thought that although there would still be some bumps in the road this season, Alvarez would be good for at least a 240-.250 with 25 bombs. Early in the season, he viewed the young left-handed hitter as just going through some standard young player struggles such as not laying off tougher pitches and getting himself out.He told me that manager Clint Hurdle has always preached to his players to try to use the whole field when they are struggling, and that he thinks Alvarez tried to do this as well, getting away from what works best for him. He tried to go to the opposite field and just didn't take to it, and it kind of toyed with his swing a bit."The hope is that Alvarez gets back to the swing mechanics that work for him again, and get him back to looking for something he can pull over the fence. Still has the potential to hit a lot of bombs next season.
Will we see a story this offseason or in spring training saying Alvarez is 1) in the best shape of his life, and 2) will go back to his old swing mechanics? Alvarez could be a late round bargain in 2012.
The Pirates farm system is improving over the past few drafts, but one guy who has fallen under the radar a bit, but who I have mentioned a few times here and at Minor League Ball is Robbie Grossman. Here is ESPN's Keith Law on Grossman in a recent article:
The lack of any plus tool limits his ceiling somewhat, but I think he can generate OBPs in the high .300s with average power and added value through defense, which would make him a pretty good player overall.
Isn't average power something like 16-20 home runs? Not bad for a guy with a high OBP who can steal some bags as well.