Friday, January 09, 2004

Scott Spiezio... The Next Bret Boone? 

One factoid you may not know about me is that I love fantasy baseball. Now, I only play NL-only leagues because I don't want my love of the Mariners to conflict with my fantasy team, since there is nothing worse than having one of your players playing against the M's (as occasionally happens in interleague play). You get "C'mon Maddux, give up an unearned run so the M's win 1-0, but my ERA stays at 0.00". Its hard to do.

Well, anyway, in order to learn more about how to value players throughout the year, I subscribe to an excellent service Ron Shandler's Baseball HQ. They had an article that was reprinted in the 2004 Annual Baseball Forecaster that I received this weekend and it was entitled "The Next Bret Boone".

Paraphrasing it (and hoping the two links and plugs will make them forgive me)... they are trying to determine how to find an established journyman who might be able to raise his game to the elite level, such as Bret Boone's emergence in 2001. (Remember in 2000, Boone went .251/19/74/.747 OPS and in 2001 he erupted for .331/37/141/.957 !!!)

They came up with criteria of age range (30-34), journeyman value (consistent but unspectacular), regular PT (average of 450 AB last 3 years), and statistics of someone who has OPS > .750, AB/2B under 18, and good contact and walk rates among other more obscure criteria that you have to buy the book to find.

Heading into 2003, the closest matches were Brian Giles, Shawn Green (neither journeymen) and Melvin Mora, who had a breakout year.

For 2004, the only player who meets all criteria is one Scott Spiezio. Written before the Holidays, the article adds "Finally, Boone's big year came after a team change, from weak San Diego to a loaded Seattle club. Spiezio is a free agent, so watch to see if he signs with an upper-class team." Well, he did in fact sign for the same upper-class team that Boone signed with.

Shandler's company puts out projections for all players, and the projected line for Spiezio... .275/23/100/.828 OPS and in the comments section of his projection writes "In an analysis elsewhere in this book, he is tabbed for a 2004 breakout season. Look closely and you'll see the signs. This projection hedges a little, the reality could be better."

So, at least one source I trust (and pay for) is looking for a breakout season from Spiezio. I had him targeted as someone to look out for if he came over to the NL. Maybe M's brass knows more than we give them credit for. They managed to find Boone & Ichiro. Its at least comforting to know someone thinks they did something right, in this sea of offseason negativity...

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