Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ishikawa Fantasy Ranking

Fantasy Baseball 365 has a post on 1B Rankings. Ishikawa made the rankings.

The good news is that he is ranked ahead of known players such as Lyle Overbay, Todd Helton, and Chad Tracy, and young prospects such as Deric Barton, Ryan Garko, Kila Ka'aihue, Ryan Shealy, Jeff Baker.

The bad news is that he was 31st on the list. Since the Yankees have Teixeira, I guess you can remove Swisher off the list in terms of our purposes - this is a fantasy list, and thus Swisher could play 1B in fantasy baseball, but not in real baseball. Also, Billy Butler won't be playing 1B either, Mike Jacobs now has that job in KC. Lastly, Nick Johnson probably isn't going to make it through the season without an injury. That would still leave Ishikawa 28th, but just behind Casey Kotchman, Mike Jacobs, and Jason Giambi, which is not that bad a place to be.

Giants Thoughts

Clearly, fantasy ranking don't really reflect how well Ishikawa will do. However, while playing time is part of that equation, so is actual counting production. And most projections of Giambi, for example, has him getting into roughly 125-140 games, 400-450 AB, hitting in the high 800 OPS, and for fantasy purposes, slugging 25-30 HR, scoring 60-70 runs, driving in around 80 RBI, with a low BA of roughly .240 and 1-2 SB. Overbay roughly 15 HR, scoring 65-70 runs, driving in 65 RBI, 2 SB, and .265-.270 BA.

I think most of us would be happy with a season roughly like those from Ishikawa. Ishikawa should have a higher BA and more SB, but lower HR than Giambi. RBI will depend on who gets on before him batting in the 7th position, though Runs could be hurting by being in the bottom of the lineup. Still, I think that he can deliver a season similar to those projected for Giambi and Overbay if given the chance to start at 1B for the Giants against at least RHP. And that chance greatly improved with Crede being signed by the Twins, as I had expected, as they were living with our reject, Brian Buscher, at 3B and he has been sub-par thus far.


  1. McCovey Chronicles has a post on TI ( and the following is a comment made by me:

    All the projections look good...

    Because who the hell knows who the real TI is, the 2007 version or the 2008.

    I think the Giants should just give him a chance to play regularly for an extended period of time and see where it goes. Better than dumping him for nothing, even a platoon player has some trade value, and his minor league stats are not that RHP heavy either, his LHP-RHP split is not that far off from current left-handed first-basemen, so he might be able to beat the platoon label if given the chance.

    He appeared to be choking from his expectations before, kind of like the athletes discussed in this article: Letting it all go, whether because of God in his case or just generally, helps some players allow their true abilities to come out instead of being inhibited by internal doubt and mentally playing to the script written for them by society, the public, or whoever.

    If anything, he's one of those players (only internal to Giants this time) that people here like to tout, he was a highly rated prospects previously, hit the skids for a couple of years, but had a great season in 2008, one that without the 2006 and 2007 hideousness, would seem like a natural progression from what he did previously when he was considered a prospect.

    Plus, as I noted back after the 2006 season, he actually had a season much like his 2005 season suggested, only he did it on the road, because Dodd Stadium totally screws around with a hitter's power, his home numbers was .212/.289/.314/.603 with 48 AB/HR while his road numbers was .244/.332/.470/.802 with 24 AB/HR; those road numbers are very similar to what he did previously in the lower levels. That's why the Giants blew it by not promoting him to AAA with Schierholtz in 2007, and instead stuck him back in a hellhole that caused him to doubt his abilities and affected his batting stroke and confidence. If Shelley was reading everything on the internet, he didn't listen to my warnings about the dangers of Dodd Stadium.

    Luckily for us, he figured out how to block out Connecticut's suckiness and hit closer in 2008 to what was envisioned for him prior to reaching Connecticut. Even in 2008, Dodd Stadium screwed with him, he hit .248/.336/.431/.767 at home, and .328/.422/.488/.910 on the road.

    Then he did even better upon his promotion to AAA, numbers too shiny to show here without causing Kool-Aid overload. Plus, he hit 13 balls 350 feet or further in AA, then started mashing in AAA, with 35 balls hit 350 feet or further, almost 3 times as much, even though he had a lot more PA in AA. Though that appears to be related to his home park giving him an advantage, he only had 12 balls 350 feet or further on the road in AAA, though it should be noted that he did that in about half the PA that he did in AA, so he was still about double.

    Adjusting for MLE, his AAA stats translated to .367/.313/.568/.881, but his road only translated to .218/.255/.437/.692 with 17 AB/HR vs. .315/.367/.730/1.097 with 18 AB/HR. That road number MLE looks like a floor for his 2009 season, and his overall MLE looks like a ceiling for 2009. And his MLE for his 2009 AA road was only .265/.333/.402/.735, which is not that good either. Lots of indicators that any of these MLEs could be the real him, but we won't find out unless we play him, so I hope we play him and see if we get .800+ OPS or a Lance Niekro redux or something in-between.

    We need to figure out what we got with semi-prospects like Ishikawa, Frandsen, Schierholtz, Sandoval, players with question marks but who could figure things out in the majors and contribute nicely, and not worry as much about actually winning games, though I understand that 's a necessary part of the business (client/audience/attendance) equation. The Giants have been straddling the youth/vet and future/present balancing act pretty well the past two off-seasons and hopefully will continue to give our young prospects the opportunity to show what they got (or don't got).

    I think he's going to hit well enough that we will be glad that he's manning 1B for us full-time with good defense, somewhere in the 700 OPS range, perhaps low 800 OPS if we are lucky. I think what he did for the Giants in the majors is probably pretty close to what he'll do in 2009, .274/.337/.432/.768 with 15 HR in roughly 450 AB, but I wouldn't be surprised if he hits 20 HR in that many AB.

  2. Dear Martin,

    I've been reading your blog for a while and enjoy your commentary (in standard, educated English) very much.

    One thing that baffles me, however, is your assesment of Travis Ishikawa. TI has, with the exception of one season, been a mediocre minor leaguer. While his performance last year is encouraging, one can hardly expect, as many of the hopeful do, that he will hit 15-22 HR's. The experienced major-league hitters on the club---Molina, Rowand, Winn--who understand the strike zone much better and who are knowledgable of the league's pitchers did not exceed 20HR's.

    "Projections" are, moreover, just guesswork and have no empirical validity. As we say in the college classroom, that line of reasoning does not comply with the norms of critical thinking.

    That aside, TI should be given a chance to prove himself in ST. But unless he proves to be something special, the Giants should go with Bowker who has demostrated a power stroke in the majors, move Sandoval to 1B, or acquire a proven 1B

  3. Hi DProfessor, thanks.

    At minimum, he was excellent in 2005 and 2008, and was pretty good in 2007 in San Jose. Mediocre 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006.

    As I've noted - often - Dodd Stadium really skews the power numbers of hitters, and thus looking at his road numbers for 2006 for his time on the road is a more accurate gauge of his true talent: it was approximately 800 OPS, much in line with his career up to then. Not outstanding, but above average and worth keeping around to see if he can take the next step upward.

    Understanding the strike zone is only part of the equation of hitting homeruns. Else the Adam Dunn's and Jack Cust's of the world wouldn't be able to hit HR given all the strikeouts he piles up. Heck, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, were all big HR hitters who strike out a lot. Knowing the strike zone in their cases have not harmed their ability to hit HRs.

    Projections is a growing art within the sabermetrics community. Of course there is guesswork, but there is also valuable information from taking past performances, whether in the majors or high minors, and projecting future performance based on what is called Major League Equivalences.

    I wouldn't say that they have no empirical validity. If they didn't I think the activity would have died off long ago. Every year appears to bring out another projection system, first there was Bill James, then Ron Shandler, lately, there has been ZIPS, Marcel, CHONE, and this year Oliver.

    If you expect perfection, then you don't believe in economic forecasts or weather forecasts either, those are pretty much inaccurate as well.

    I think what you want from a projection/forecast system is that it is in the ballpark of where the actual numbers ended up, given no injury. You want to be able to take a bucket of the numbers, say, a team's worth, and the projections in the aggregate is close to what the team does, except for injuries.

    So you don't believe in Ishikawa, who has hit in double digits in HR in the minors for the past 5 seasons, with two seasons over 20 HR, with multiple seasons where his AB/HR was in the 25 AB/HR (20 HR per season rate) or better rate, in fact all 5 seasons with a rate better than 30 AB/HR, yet you want to give Bowker the 1B position when he has really only had one really good season of HR hitting, 2007, which is his only season with better than 30 AB/HR in a season? I don't understand this stance of yours.

    I don't see why he needs to prove to be something special. He needs to be better than our best alternative at 3B, at which point you shift Sandoval to 1B if he is worse than our best alternative there. He also needs to be better than what Bowker shows himself to be capable of.

    I'm not expecting anything special from Ishikawa. The numbers above that I speculated on, almost any average MLB hitter can do given enough playing time.

    If he is terrible and Bowker doing well, I say "Next!" and DFA him and try Bowker next. However, Bowker has options left while Ishikawa is out of options, so unless Bowker clearly shows himself to be superior - and given the gulf between the Majors and AAA, he will have to do much like he did in 2007 - I would give Ishikawa a lot of playing time, much like how they gave Castillo a lot of playing time in 2008 at 3B, and make sure we know what type of player he can be, playing him against LHP and RHP. If he can be a passable hitter, with his defense, he could bring us some prospects in exchange, if we want. Otherwise, like Castillo, we DFA late in the season and bring up Bowker, assuming he does well.

    There is absolutely no need to acquire a proven 1B, 2009 should not be about winning the division, it should be about making .500 and figuring out what our prospects can do. We can figure out what our prospects are capable of doing in 2009 and start looking to acquire proven hitters in the 2009 off-season when we start to contend in the 2010 season.

  4. I meant Castillo's place on the roster. Players who throw left-handed have not played 3B, SS, or 2B in recent memory. I think there was a left-handed thrower who played 2B several decades ago.

    Agree on Frandsen. Despite some posters' hatred of Frandsen, he is a hard-nosed infielder who can play both 3B and 2B.

  5. Not sure what your comment is referring to, DProfessor.

    Who is taking Castillo's place on the roster?

    Sandoval might be left-handed (only person I can think of that would prompt you to say this about left-handed players), but he has shown that he's able to throw right-handed well too, basically ambidextrous, and that is what he has been doing at 3B and at C, which also have not seen any left-handed players there either in recent memory.



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