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Chat: Darius Austin

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday September 10, 2018 2:00 PM ET chat session with Darius Austin.


Darius is a fantasy writer at Baseball Prospectus.

Darius Austin: Hello to all of those dedicated enough to still be here five and a half months in! Let's talk baseball (and a few other things, apparently).

Jessica (Colorado): Hi Darius. I'm new to playing dynasty baseball and prospects aren't really my thing. I just joined a league and was almost immediately offered Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper for Drew Waters. That seems crazy to me. What am I missing? Should I accept? I'm afraid Waters might be the next Ronald Acuna and don't want to trade that away for anything.

Darius Austin: You should hit accept before you finish reading this answer. Waters is an exciting prospect with a ton of tools who could be a star in the majors, and even if that happens it would be an incredible outcome if he can produce like either Stanton or Harper. Getting both of them is ludicrous, and I would expect your other leaguemates to complain vociferously.

Candace (LA): How bad is Lewis Brinson? Is bad a strong enough word?

Darius Austin: Probably not. Awful would be reasonable. Horrendous, if you prefer. His propensity to whiff at almost every available opportunity is extremely concerning and he has not even provided the speed that fantasy owners hoped for. At the same time, it's very early to get too down on Brinson. I think he still has all the tools that we got excited about in the first place, including still being very fast, and the Marlins will stick with him for a while yet given his defensive ability and athleticism. He has also struggled with injury, which took away some of the opportunity for him to get used to big-league pitching. Brinson was always considered a high variance guy because of the potential swing-and-miss issues and for most of this season, we've seen what the low end of that wide range of outcomes looks like. He might never figure it out, but if you liked Brinson as a power-speed threat just with enough average, you should wait a bit longer to see if he does.

Dusty (Colorado): Hey Darius! What can you tell me about Twins SS prospect Wander Javier. Do you like his upside?

Darius Austin: I heard you were into Adonis Medina these days, Dusty. Or maybe Wander Franco. I think you should start telling us what you know about Wander Javier. Missing the year isn't great but I don't think it affects his significant upside much.

Rusty (Denver): What can you tell me about Wander Samuel Franco of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays?

Darius Austin: Ah, there we go. The first thing to be aware of with Franco is to make sure you identify the right one - there are at least 14 in the minors, it seems. The Rays' Franco is only 17 and still at Rookie ball, which makes him both a very long way from the majors and phenomenally exciting, because he's doing something that 17-year-olds often don't do right away: showing plenty of power to go along with his plus hit tool. Jeff Paternostro put sixes on his hit and power tools last month, and admitted that might be low. You're probably very late on the Franco train if you try to buy in a dynasty league. Expect him to be threatening top tens of prospect lists everywhere over the offseason.

mkoster12bp (NJ): Are you able to give your insight or rank maybe these middle infield players in a dynasty keeper league going forward? -Lourdes gurriel jr, scott kingery, Willy adames, franklin barreto, Luis urias, Orlando arcia, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Lowe?

Darius Austin: Adames, Kingery, Urias, Barreto, Lowe, Arcia, Gurriel, McNeil. I think Adames is the clear number one and then there's probably a tier drop after Barreto/Lowe as well. Arcia should get to stay on the field for a while because of his glove, but I'm impressed with Lowe's progress and I think his approach gives him an OBP boost too.

Bill Goldberg (Tulsa): WHO'S NEXT?!

Darius Austin: Elton in Washington, I guess? (sorry if you get Speared, Elton)

Elton (Washington): I play in a dynasty league and have made it my personal strategy to roster as many Mariners prospects as possible. I feel like eventually one has to pan out and be really good. Is this smart of me?

Darius Austin: I once played in a league with a guy who decided to only draft players with a Z in their surname. It didn't go that well. As a strategy, it is certainly unique. I don't know if even the Mariners would call it smart, despite the statistical lure of their system regressing to the mean. I can try to make you feel better: James Paxton was drafted by the Mariners, and he's good! Edwin Diaz has been fantasy gold this year, and Seattle drafted him too. Mike Zunino has, on occasion, been helpful in fantasy. You might have noticed that all of these picks are from 2012 or earlier. That's because the Mariners haven't had a truly productive major leaguer from any draft since. It's pretty much Andrew Moore and a few relievers who have even made the majors. Tyler O'Neill might be their first genuinely productive draft pick since 2012, but they traded him (although Marco Gonzales was good before he got hurt, so it kinda worked out). Maybe you should just hope that Dipoto moves all these prospects to organisations that will develop them. Unless your strategy then requires you to trade them too.

Tom Pringle (UK): Is Clay Buchholz a 1st round pick for 2019? Don't say no.

Darius Austin: If you're in a league where you can't pick up a player who wasn't on a 40-man roster to start the year, I could buy it. Can't wait to draft with you next season.

Ben (London): How concerned are you about Joey Votto's power decline this year? Obviously his on-base skills make him a hugely valuable real-life player but his fantasy production has been disappointing. Any reason to think that changes next year?

Darius Austin: It's not great from a 34 - wait - now 35-year-old, Happy Birthday Joey! I think the injuries have really bothered him this year. Until we see him get an offseason of rest to address that and then get a look at him next spring, I'm not ready to say the power is going away. The approach is still elite so I'm hopeful that he can get back to the low-20s at least with improved health.

Michael Scarn (Scranton): Your colleague Rob Mains is a big fan of talking about wine and cheese and spreadsheets and whatever else in this space. How about you? Are you down to talk baseball or would you rather talk high finance?

Darius Austin: I am afraid I cannot claim Rob's level of sophistication in any of those fields (although I do enjoy a good spreadsheet). I would certainly much rather talk baseball than high finance. Please direct all finance-based questions to Rob.

Nick S. (Georgia): The outlook doesn't look good for your Giants. Where does the team go from here?

Darius Austin: Oh boy. It's really difficult to say. At this stage, with the Cueto & Posey injuries, Bumgarner looking diminished, and the general age of the roster, you kind of hope they'll get what they can with their few remaining decent players and actually try and inject some youth. Brandon Belt might fetch something, for instance. The team hates actually doing that, though, so I think they'll probably just keep trying to contend until the veterans literally can't walk onto the field any more.

km9 (Mid-Pacific ): What do your fellow British fans often find to be the strangest aspect of baseball (rules, league structure, culture, etc)?

Darius Austin: The schedule takes some getting used to. People look baffled/horrified when I tell them there are 162 games in the season, before playoffs. I think the concept of teams moving in American sports in general is very strange for British fans. There was a huge outcry here when a football team moved about 40 miles north out of London a while back.

Gerald (Canada): Do you like prospects? Baseball prospects to be clear.

Darius Austin: I do! They'll break your heart, of course, but you can't hold that against them.

Bethany (Maryland): I was recently offered Deivi Garcia for Matt Manning in my 16 teamer(40 man minor league roster). Which of these arms do you think will fare better long term?

Darius Austin: Statistically their profiles have been kind of similar in the minors, but I think Manning might be the better bet just because I think he'll get more of a chance to stick in the rotation. While size is often an overblown issue, Manning's got the projectible 6'6" frame and Garcia's a relatively diminutive 5'10" who will probably have that 'future relief arm' tag hanging over him unless he gets a couple of full major league seasons in a rotation under his belt.

Charlene (Wisconsin ): I recently looked at what Carlos Rincon did in High A this year. 220 WRC+, .491 ISO, .818 LG, and a .513 WOBA. I know it was only 131 PA, but WOW!. Any chance he's a guy trending up in prospect circles?

Darius Austin: It's a pretty stunning line even considering the small sample. I don't think Rincon's power has ever been in question but if the decline in strikeouts is at all real, there might just be something there. I haven't heard an awful lot of talk on him because this surge has come so recently, so I'd have to defer the full scouting report to one of our excellent prospect team.

Gloria (Albuquerque NM): Which prospect would you rather have in a dynasty league: Brendan Rodgers or Carlos Rincon?

Darius Austin: I guess it's the Carlos Rincon segment now. Rodgers still has a few questions to answer. He's also a shortstop prospect who may soon be calling Coors Field home, so Rincon would need to have more than a good six weeks to match that.

Keith (Everglades): Is Touki Toussaint in the Braves rotation next April?

Darius Austin: I think so. Not got a ton left to improve in the minors and has flashed some really nice potential in his brief major league look.

Steve Austin (Texas): WHAT?!!?! Do you think of Kyle Tucker heading into next season?

Darius Austin: Should get a much better shot at decent playing time and offers both power and speed in a stacked lineup. He'll probably still go through some struggles but there's a lot to like.

Aaron Gleeman #1 Fan (minneapolis): Willians Astudillo is sure raking without walking at all. Can he get regular PAs on the Twins next year, catcher?

Darius Austin: Why limit him to just catcher? As any Effectively Wild listener will tell you, Astudillo has so many strings to his bow. The issue with not walking or hitting a lot of home runs is you really need to hit close to .300 to provide value at the plate, although Astudillo looks like he might have a bit more power than we thought. He's a good framer too. I'll say yes, although that might be out of hope rather than logic.

Jordan (South Dakota): I suck at Fantasy Baseball. Help.

Darius Austin: This is...broad, to say the least. If you're not already subscribing to BP, I'll recommend that though. Tons of great columns on strategy, ranking, valuations, player evaluation, a phenomenal prospect team to boot if you're playing dynasty.

Tom Pringle (UK): Justin Mason is mad. He's conducting mock 2019 fantasy baseball drafts this weekend. Which players do you see infiltrating the top 10 picks in 2019 compared to this season's ADP top 10? Jose Ramirez? Aaron Judge? Chris Sale? And who do we see dropping out? Kershaw? Harper? Stanton? (2018 ADP) 1 Mike Trout 2 Jose Altuve 3 Nolan Arenado 4 Trea Turner 5 Clayton Kershaw 6 Bryce Harper 7 Paul Goldschmidt 8 Giancarlo Stanton 9 Charlie Blackmon 10 Mookie Betts

Darius Austin: He is. I think it's the lack of sleep. Ramirez is a no-doubter - forget top 10, he's top 5. Judge's injury probably stops him, although I think he and Sale will be borderline. Kershaw will be out, as will Blackmon, and probablg Goldschmidt. Bryce has been really good for a couple of months now and I think a good last three weeks might just keep him in there.

Wander Javier (Extended Extended Spring Training): Any truth to the rumor Craig Goldstein quit because he was tired of answering questions about me?

Darius Austin: Almost certainly.

Rob Mains (Twitter): Want to train for a decathlon with me?

Darius Austin: This sounds difficult. Much more so than wine, cheese, and spreadsheets. Also very complicated logistically - presumably you need a spreadsheet to handle training for ten different events at once?

Dusty (Colorado): I just looked up Carlos Rincon. OMG. Wander WHO!?!?!

Darius Austin: If only this had happened last week. We could have convinced Craig to stick around.

Joe (TBD): Earlier this year I traded away a starting pitcher on a Sunday so someone could stream him, and then got him to trade him back to me later that day. Essentially I rented a player to another team and decided their matchup for a small amount of value. Is this OK?

Darius Austin: If there's no collusion and you're genuinely improving your team, it's fine (although it still feels icky).

Tyler (Rossford, OH): Have you been keeping up with Season 20 of Big Brother this year? Crazy season so far!

Darius Austin: I have not. I also missed the previous 19 seasons. If you told me Wander Javier was in it, I know someone who would watch, though.

Tammy Tabernacle (Timbuktu): Ottoneu-style dynasty league trade advice needed!! I've been offered both Luis Garcias, the one from Washington and the one from Philadelphia, in exchange for 1B mashers Luke Voit and Ryan O'Hearn. What do I do?

Darius Austin: I'd make that trade, assuming you have the time and roster space to wait a while for the Garcias. The Washington version certainly has far greater upside than Voit or O'Hearn, and this might be the peak of their value.

Andrew (MD): I traded away Chris Paddack for Trevor Cahill to go for it this year. I was eliminated in round 1 of my playoffs and Cahill has done nothing for weeks. How many years of the rest of my life will I regret this? Im in my early 30s right now.

Darius Austin: As many years as it takes you to win another title. 50 years from now, you'll be talking about the Curse of the Cahill Trade.

Johan Camargo (Atlanta): How overlooked am I? I'm only 24 years old and have 3.2 fWAR this year. I've got a .358 wOBA and a 123 WRC+ at both third and short. I'm so much better than Dansby Swanson. I'm even a great dynasty asset! Please sing my praises.

Darius Austin: Thanks for taking time out of your day to come to a BP chat, Johan. You have been outstanding, and clearly better than Swanson. Good approach, solid power, exciting young team. Hopefully he stays underrated going into draft season!

Kevin (NY): Everyone's up in arms about Peter Alsono not getting the call. As a Mets fan, I'm disappointed, but I can't shake the feeling that he might be the next coming of AJ Reed anyway. And AJ Reed is a turd. Do you see a difference between the two hitters as prospects?

Darius Austin: I think there's less swing-and-miss in Alonso's game, although until we get to see him against major league pitching, we can't be sure how he'll adjust. In terms of being large, major raw power 1B guys who aren't super athletic or useful outside of what they do at the plate, there are definitely similarities.


Darius Austin: Is this a Shohei Ohtani-wrestling crossover reference?

Mac (Philly): Is Corbin Martin the real deal? He looks it.

Darius Austin: He's passed every test so far with aplomb. I don't know that there's much more than a mid-rotation guy at best there, which is by no means a knock, but maybe not quite as exciting as the numbers suggest.

Greg (DC): Who wins the NL West?

Darius Austin: I'm still saying the Dodgers. I keep insisting that the Rockies won't keep it up, though, and they keep sticking around.

Elton (Washington): I should have mentioned that my dynasty prospect strategy is two-pronged. In addition to stocking up on Mariners, I also love acquiring pitchers immediately before they suffer horrible injuries or get suspended for cheating.

Darius Austin: Have you contacted Jerry for a job in his front office?

Carl (Fresno): A lot to like with Ronny Mauricio?

Darius Austin: I'd say so, with my usual caveat that there's an awful long time to wait. Switch-hitting shortstops who are already showing power at 17 and with plenty of projection left are definitely likable.

Jonny (Los Angeles): Seeing all these dynasty league questions today reminded me of the time I traded Fernando Tatis Jr. for Luis Perdomo. It wasn't as long ago as you might hope, either. Womp womp.

Darius Austin: Oh boy. I hung on to Perdomo for a real long time in a dynasty too. Didn't have to give up anything like that for him, though.

jmor1717 (internets): Ramon Laureano - is this who he is? Looks like his BABIP has returned to a level he sustained in the minors. Did the As get a steal, and is he a 20/20 guy in fantasy?

Darius Austin: He's a tremendous athlete who I think will run an above-average BABIP. That said, almost no-one runs a .375. I wouldn't expect the average to continue. I think they've done really well with the trade. The threat to him reaching 20-20 might be continued rotation by the A's, who love to platoon.

Yuri (Israel): Just wanted to say this has been a great chat today. Thanks Darius!

Darius Austin: Thank you! A lot of fun questions have helped.

Bojangles Horséfly III (Parts Unknown): Julio Urias was just called up by the Dodgers. Will he pitch meaningful innings for them the rest of the way?

Darius Austin: The Dodgers will probably do what they've always done with Urias, which is treat him incredibly cautiously. He'll get some bullpen innings and if the early appearances go well, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets used in a big spot or two.

Gonny J (Parts Unknown ): Who's the current favorite to challenge Ryan Webb in the all-time games-finished-without-a-save category?

Darius Austin: There is no challenger, as far as I'm concerned. Technically it's George Kontos, but I think Webb stands alone now. The only way he loses it is if he returns to the majors himself and gets a save.

mkoster12bp (NJ): Oh wow, I just looked up Carlos Rincon too. How are more people not talking abut him?

Darius Austin: I think outside of the power, there wasn't a lot of reason to consider him previously. There are lots of guys with tons of power who don't have the bat-to-ball skills or the approach to get a sniff at prospect lists. I'll certainly be asking the prospect guys about him!

Ferns (Philly): Francisco Morales seems like a guy who might skyrocket next year. What are your thoughts?

Darius Austin: It's a super exciting profile. Control is still lacking. If he can improve there then the other components are in place for him to take a leap.

Elmer (Cincinnati): If you're in a H2H points league, do you think whoever wins the regular season points championship should get paid out? Or should only the team with the best H2H record get paid out? OR BOTH?!

Darius Austin: I'm in favour of adding rewards for the 'best' team in H2H formats, in addition to whoever actually wins the league (assuming you mean a regular season/playoff distinction). Not as much as the winning team, but it's nice to reward the best team.

Eric (Louisville): I saw the Luis Garcias mentioned earlier. Here's a hot take: the Washington one is awesome and an easy top 100 prospect, but guess what? So is the Philly one! Collect all the Luis Garcias.

Darius Austin: It's a better strategy than Elton's 'collect all the Mariners'.

Alex Bregman (Houston): I am a top ____ dynasty league asset.

Darius Austin: 20. Maybe 15. Outstanding approach, with average, power and speed, at the age of 24. Hard not to love that.

Orioles Fan (MD): Why did Gausman suddenly become great as soon as he left? What is Gausman's longer term outlook now that he actually plays for a team with coaching?

Darius Austin: Not being in Camden Yards probably helps. We still haven't seen a ton of strikeouts in Atlanta, so it's not like he's suddenly done a Gerrit Cole and turned into an ace.

Mark (Minnesota): Byron Buxton = 💩

Darius Austin: Will we ever give up on Buxton? He'll probably finally have an incredible full season at 29, once we've had several more years to go through the Buxton rollercoaster and finally all got off.

The Undertaker (Death Valley): Is Michael Chavis still on PEDs? Does it matter? What's his upside, he had a great year for the time he played.

Darius Austin: Lot of wrestlers in the house today. Chavis probably isn't going to play third. I think he can hit enough to be a decent 1B without being anything truly spectacular.

Sammy (Southside): The White Sox have had an objectively horrible year as an organization, with the Kopech news being the final nail. Giolito hasn't been good. Reynaldo Lopez seems kind of blah. Other than Eloy, 2018 has been brutal. Is this one of the better examples of how bottoming out for a rebuild can go wrong?

Darius Austin: It's not what they would have hoped for. That said, it wasn't all that long ago that people were wondering if the Astros had got it all wrong, with the Aiken debacle, and Appel flaming out. The Sox still have Eloy and more on the way, and the likes of Moncada and Anderson are still young and learning. We probably need a few more years before we can declare that it went wrong.

Mike Trout (Anaheim): I just looked up Carlos Rincon's stats. I'm think I need to try harder now. WOW!!!!!

Darius Austin: Seems like this train is really rolling now.

Jesus (Back on Earth): I have finally returned, but I have changed my name to... CARLOS RINCON

Darius Austin: Yep, we've reached peak Rincon hype in one chat. I think that'll do it.

Darius Austin: Thanks for joining me, everyone, this was a lot of fun! I look forward to the Carlos Rincon hype train gaining more momentum.

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