Howdy Seattle Mariner Fans!
If you’re anything like me, a machine learning algorithm created for predicting baseball related outcomes and relating to humans, when you’re done with your shift at the fish-catching plant, you like to get in your Subaru and check out not only the 10-day forecast at the Space Needle while sipping some coffee, you enjoy checking your fantasy baseball squad!
Relatable, I know!
However, hobby is not just time intensive and rapidly declining in popularity, it carries with it a big ol’ Mercer Mess of a barrier to entry in the fact that you gotta intricately know a bunch of largely anonymous Baseball Dudes! Sometimes you just want a good ol’ security flannel that you can metaphorically wrap yourself in while you eat your teriyaki. Fear not local team fan, Trident Deck’s R&D Department has you covered.
With our paradigm shifting Value Indexed Baseball Estimation System (VIBES) metric, you can find the Good & Local Baseball Dudes who the industry at large just aren’t hip enough to catch on to. With this knowledge you can be the 1077 The End of your league! Let’s start cooking that teen spirit and gas up the gasworks because we’re going to get local!
Ketel Marte, Average Draft Position 80
VIBES: 2B-7 SS-12 OF-31 CF-13 (roughly right at consensus value)
Marte is recovering from a Meet the Parents to Little Fockers swing. After a sensational 2019 built on a Pretty Good And Interesting 2018, Marte lost all semblance of the fantasy goodness in 2020. Our Dude Ketel cratered from 32 homers to 2 and ticked just a single steal.
Stay away from Marte in 2021, right?
Oh, silly human. VIBES sees a player with an extensive track record of age-adjusted minor league production, unreal ability to make contact (99th% percentile whiff-rate per baseball savant shows skills/ one can also surmise that Marte may have been selling out for contact after 2019’s rabbit ball rewarded this approach), and varying degrees of major league success in his early career. Marte may feel like he’s been around forever, but he’s entering just his age 27 season to boot in a hitters park. With a surprisingly shallow pool at 2B, Bring Him Back Home (virtually) with confidence around RD5 and enjoy (at worst) above average OBP, versatility, a steal here and there, and potential for salivatory power.
Edwin Diaz, Average Draft Position 85
VIBES: RP1 (RP4 consensus)
Sugar is the undisputed VIBES relief champ of 2021. Coming off now 3 consecutive years of 15+ K/9 (!!!) Diaz recorded his lowest hard-hit rate (25%!!!) and exit velocity against (86.6 MPH!!!!!) in 2021. You’re not going to get anyone better in baseball than Edwin at generating strikeouts (literal 100th percentile whiff rate per savant), and he’s learning how to maximize his power repertoire on an improving team in arguably the best pitchers park in the majors. VIBES tells you to shove the BB% nerds into the proverbial locker and bring in Diaz to anchor your virtual bullpen.
Marco Gonzales, Average Draft Position 151
VIBES: SP3 (49)
Though VIBES was designed to be a value indexed baseball estimation system, it has begun to produce what we can only assume are attempts at replicating and improving upon human art. When running the numbers on Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales, VIBES began to shake and the research team heard something coming from a dusty fax machine……..
She’s runnin’, I’m flyin’
Right behind in the rearview mirror now
Got the fearin’, power steerin’
Pistons poppin’, ain’t no stoppin’ now
The researchers then reported a pixelated drawing that was described as “unprecedentedly tasteful” of a middle aged man who has been “pants’d” being laughed at by a gaggle of children. There also appears to be what the staff calls a sports car doing doughnuts in the foreground which the scientists described as capturing “the essence of bitchin’”. We are in no position to question the machine intelligence in in it’s bullish prediction for the Mariners hurler.
Chris Taylor, Average Draft Position 217
VIBES: 2B-20 (24) SS-24 (27) OF-74 CF-35
Too young to be part of the infamous Boy Band infield prospects, much like Ketel Marte, Chris Taylor went from something of a spreadsheet darling to dud with the Mariners. Again, much like Marte, switching to the NL West proved advantageous to Taylor as he became that 2B-LF that the Mariners were “hyper-focused” on acquiring but gosh, oh golly, oh jeez, think of the wine-club membership, just couldn’t find this offseason.
Though VIBES doesn’t put a significant value on the truncated 2020, it is interested in Taylor posting his best slash line since his breakthrough 2017, and posting a career-high BB% (12.1% over 214 plate appearances in 2020) shows he may be seeing the ball better than he ever has before. The marketplace has tethered to younger, sexier middle infield options in the later rounds, but follow the VIBES and bring Taylor back with confidence and enjoy something of a Ketel Marte-lite performance about 10 rounds later.
James Paxton Average Draft Position 341
VIBES: SP34 (SP65 consensus)
Though his draft position will likely go up after news of his signing and the inevitable positive spring press clippings, VIBES wouldn’t sweat taking The Big Maple anywhere from 150ish onward. Though there are some troubling indicators (career-worst 46.4% hard-hit rate, fastball velocity backed up to 92MPH), VIBES sees a 4.37 FIP (not shabby!) over a minuscule 20 inning sample size, consistent K and BB percentages, and a fantastic track record of sittin’ dudes down. A move from hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to the PinkPalace will likely keep a few balls in the yard for Paxton as well, helping his value should he still get hit around much worse than what we remember. Consume liberally in your fantasy drafts and watch the K-Eh’s pile up.
Mitch Haniger Average Draft Position 351
VIBES: OF-63 (70), CF-32 (37)
It seems that the industry has mostly written off the 11th place 2018 AL MVP vote-getter, Mitch Haniger. Going from spreadsheet darling, to small-sample size sweetie, to a Daggum All-Star in 2018, Hanniger suffered through a Jobian 2019 and 2020 in terms of bodily maladies and smartly decided to dedicate last year to get healthy. Haniger is reportedly healthy going into camp this year, and considering the state of the Mariner outfield, his name is one of maybe 3 hitters, which is written in pen on the lineup card. VIBES sees a return to his nifty career averages (.348 OBP, .212 ISO both above average to excellent, even in a deep OF pool), 5-7 steals, and hidden power upside (despite 2019 being a year to forget he posted an excellent .250 ISO). Ride the VIBES in the later rounds of your drafts with Mitch.
Kyle Seager Average Draft Position345
VIBES: 3B-26 (31)
One of said 3 Mariners written in pen on the lineup card, VIBES foresees the continual march of 240something/330something/430something slash lines to continue for the metronomic Seager but also anticipates an exciting bit of upside to a player whose boring profile has created a value. Seager very quietly posted a career-best 12.9% walk-rate and actually got somewhat unlucky last year with an expected wOBA of .350. This change in approach and locked-in 600+ plate appearances make the older half of the In-Play Kyle(s) more intriguing to VIBES than most 34-year-old corner bats. Draft with confidence in the latter part of standard league offerings and as a potential starter in sicko stuff.
Drew Smyly Average Draft Position 348
VIBES: SP45 (SP78)
Drew Smyly is best known by Mariner fans for a strangely unsettling association with the word “soggy.” Knocked out of both 2017 and 2018 by said sogginess of the arm (which sounds like something you’d get in 1917, not 2017), Smyly then spent 2019 getting what science can only describe as “absolutely friggin’ shelled out there.” A funny thing happened on the way to carwash ownership though; on a last-chance contract with the Giants, Smyly had one of the most exciting 2020s in all of baseball. Out of nowhere, Smyly added 3 ticks to his repertoire and started absolutely gassing dudes to the tune of 14.35 strikeouts per 9 and posted a sparkling 2.56 xFIP. VIBES is intrigued by this unexpected uptick, and also a track record of success before an injury derailed his career in what are typically the peak years of a pitcher. Though his walks went up (but not to a worrying degree) and hard-hit percentage did as well, Smyly has firmly planted himself back into the Fantasy Circle of Trust and should be a part of your late-round pitching-plan.
Yusei Kikuchi Average Draft Position 376
VIBES: SP79 (SP98)
Speaking of unexpectedly neat 2020s, Kikuchi took a sharp turn at disappointment junction and veered into the much more palatable Interesting Mystery Box bucket. Much like the aforementioned Smyly, Kikuchi spent the last year of normalcy just absolutely getting woodwhacked around the yard (18.5% of all flyballs against Kikuchi left the yard in 2019, pitching in a pitchers park this is quite bad!) and likely would’ve been demoted to the bullpen or the minors on a more competitive team. Again much like Smyly, Kikuchi came seemingly out of nowhere to become a VIBES darling in 2020. Finding a few extra ticks on his fastball, Kikuchi halved his HR/FB rate to a MUCH more acceptably 9.8% and started striking out a batter per inning. Yes, the walks picked up, but VIBES sees a strong international track record of keeping those numbers acceptable and is willing to see what upside Kikuchi has in a normalized season at his current draft point.
Julio Rodriguez Average Draft Position 466
VIBES: C-1 1B-1 2B-1 3B-1 SS-1 OF-1 (145) CF-1 UTIL-1 (311) SP1 RP2
VIBES does think Edwin Diaz is a better reliever, but not by much.
J.P. “Crawdaddy” Crawford Average Draft Position 457
VIBES: SS-35 (41)
Crawford is one of a few VIBE’Y younger shortstops available in the hazy hours of 2021 fantasy drafts, and of those, J.P. is the most locked into a role that will ensure him all the playing time he desires from the jump. Crawford’s concern is his power numbers, which took a bit of a dip in 2020 (career-worst ISO, bottom 5% barrel rate, bottom 9% exit velocity). Still, VIBES is assuaged by his emerging skill at getting on base. Crawford’s OBP jumped 20 points last year (from .319 to .339), and JP markedly struck out less, going from doing so 21% of the time to a nifty 16% while keeping his walk rate stable. Entering his age 26 season, VIBES sees this improvement, potentially leading to unlocking the league-average power that scouts said he would get to his peak this year. Shortstops that post a .340 OBP with 15+ home runs and 10+ steals are nothing to sneeze at, and though Crawford is never going to be a top100 fantasy stud, he’s a screaming value at this juncture.
Logan Gilbert Average Draft Position 503
VIBES: SP129 (165)
Of the Non-Julio Mariners Baseball Teens and 20somethings, VIBES is most excited about Logan Gilbert, the squad’s 2018 1st round pick. All he’s been doing since college is getting folks out in fantasy-relevant ways (i.e., strikeouts), posting a k/9 of 10+ (this is excellent!) since his sr year of college at the Stetson Hat And Baseball Preparatory Academy For Lads (and Ladies too!). Last we checked on Gilbert, he zoomed through the lower minors, posting an ERA of 1.59, 1.73, and 2.88 with FIPs showing that he wasn’t lucking out. Gilbert actually got progressively better at limiting home runs. Gilbert’s HR/FB actually dropped while going up the minor league ladder from a neat 9.5% in hi-A to an eye-popping 3.6% at AA. VIBES jibes with scouts touts of a pitcher with above-average command of a nasty four-pitch arsenal. Though younger pitchers walk rates tend to climb in the majors as they nibble instead of attack, even with an early bump in walks, Gilbert should find himself fantasy relevant from his debut with a shot to be an Imminently Draftable Dude in 2022.
Daniel Vogelbach Average Draft Position 606
VIBES: 1B-38 (55)
As a FakeBaseballResearcher, I swear to you I did not put my thumb on the scales of fate for my beloved Vogdor, and the machine did this on its own. To put it bluntly, Vogey’s 2020 was tumultuous. DFA’d by the offensively challenged Mariners and the HuskyLad-Friendly Blue Jays, Vogelbach ended up at Bernie Brewer’s Last Chance Saloon in Milwaukee. Despite some icky numbers with the Mariners & Jays, NL-Vogey was a revelation in the Cream City. It’s only a 67 plate appearance sample, but Our Large Adult National League Son slashed .328(!)/.418(!!)/.569(!!!) upon his arrival in Milwaukee. Though the decline of the universal DH likely eliminates everyday playing time for Vogelbach, early struggles by some suspicious characters across the diamond and Vogelbach’s continued mashing could necessitate moving uber-2B-prospect Keston Hiura down the defensive spectrum to 3B or LF and opening up at-bats against righties for one Daniel Vogelbach at first, in a tremendously fertile hitting environment to boot. Your obsession with Vogelbach is now backed by science; go get him late.
Brad Miller Average Draft Position 626
VIBES: 3B-43 (67) 2B-47 (61) OF-124 (163)
The former Glue-Guy (was gonna go with Glue-Boy here, I’m never uttering those two words digitally or vocally ever again, but I thought it and you have to experience it with me) the Minorz2Majorz Mariners infield boy-band, Miller went from the “Mariners gonna Mariner huyck, hyuck, hyuck” player in 2016 to “lost in the wilderness of whiffs” in 2017 to early 2019. If you’re sensing a common theme in this article, you’re correct, and guess what? Something clicked in 2019 once Miller landed in Philadelphia. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear to see that Miller finally made the successful transition to being a more selective hitter (he actually started taking more talks in 2017 but his offense as a whole collapsed potentially as a result) and has turned himself into an above-average on-base guy while posting borderline excellent power numbers. Now back in Philadelphia after a successful 2020, Miller isn’t going to get everyday at-bats right away, but he’s patiently waiting to step into fantasy relevance should injury strike.
Andrés Muñoz Average Draft Position 673
VIBES: RP40 (104)
Andrés Muñoz as a 21 year old rookie:
Avg fastball velo of 100mph
Dipoto did it again.
You heard it here first, baseball teens 😉. Though VIBES doesn’t know that the reason Munoz is sitting out is a somewhat scary injury-related situation, all underlying metrics point to a quick ascent to efficient saves and holds goodies for one Andrés Muñoz once he returns healthy. Should the Mariners perform to team projections, his competition for these goodies will likely be in another locale—draft and hold in deeper leagues with supreme confidence.
Mike Ford Average Draft Position 716
VIBES: 1B-50 (68)
Though his stay in Marinersville was brief, a quick hello how do you do welp back to New York for you, like a very pleasant neighbor, Mike Ford has done nothing but quietly rake since his return to the Yankees in 2017. Though his age (28) and mixed major league track record (a very promising .373 wOBA in 2019 was followed by a wet thud of an unplayable .224 in 2020) scream that Ford is likely a dreaded “quad-A-guy,” but VIBES sees a consistently excellent minor league track record and an intriguing 2019 as accord to hold onto Ford in your fantasy fjord. Though he’s blocked by more established and, if we’re honest here, likely better, bat-only options in New York, a 1b needy team with a nautical theme could do well by bringing in Ford for a 200ish PA audition…
LOCAL VIBES DARLINGS FOR YOUR WATCHLIST
Both of these dudes are likely to go undrafted in most functional-brained leagues, but you can put both on your watchlist without being a total homer. Flexen’s major league stat line isn’t pretty. He’s walked more than he’s struck out and has an HR/FB% of 15+ while pitching in one of the friendliest locales for hurlers. To put it nicely, there’s a reason he wasn’t in the majors in 2020. However, something may have clicked for Flexen in his stint with the KBO. His K’s were up (10+ per 9 innings), walks were down (2.31/9 innings, this is borderline great!), and he posted a 2.74 FIP in a league full of bandboxes in the KBO. VIBES sees a consistent minor league track record of success, 3 potentially above-average pitches, and a friendly home locale and is willing to flex for Flexen. Let’s see how this goes.
Delaplane will likely start the season out in whatever the 2021 equivalent of “Tacoma” is, but should be up quickly once folks who are out of options show themselves. He’s done nothing but strike folks out to the tune of 14.11 in AA and is showing tremendous improvement in his control (going from a wild 3.98 in A ball to a neato 2.19 in AA) and ability to limit hard contact, improving to a 6% HR/FB rate at AA. With all the trappings of a plug-and-play late-inning reliever, VIBES wouldn’t be surprised if Delaplane becomes the closer of the future for the Mariners in short order.
Allrighty folks now that you’ve been endowed with unprecedented foresight, we must recite the Fake Baseballers pledge
Is a game to be played with your buds
And games played with your buds are meant to be fun
I will treat players as people
And not number generation machines with human names
I fully realize
The ultimate outcome is determined solely by my managerial choices
And I will behave in a way that encourages a jovial online environment
There you go, it’s that simple! Now go get Cosmic Crisp with it!