We're No.1 (or maybe No. 2)!

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This is very exciting news, though the results are far from official.
As I’ve mentioned in this spot previously, I’m participating in Tom Tango’s Forecasters Challenge, which has 22 forecasters and projection systems playing out 1,000 runs of the season using teams of preranked players. I gave a rundown of what my teams looked like back in June.
I had just about given up on seeing an in-season update of how things were progressing, but Tom had the following to say Wednesday:

If the season were to end today, it would be a 2-man race between Rotoworld and John Eric Hanson. Together, they have 542 wins out of 1000 drafts! The other 20 combine to win less than these two. What a thrashing!

Many of the big names are taking part, so it’d be quite a thrill to come in first or even second. Looking at his draft run, I think Mr. Hanson may well have the edge, as the key players he’s relying on seem to be healthy and producing. It’s remarkable just how similar his rankings were to mine in some cases. We battled on many of the same players over the course of the 1,000 drafts.
Player – My team – Hanson – Total
Carlos Silva – 667 – 333 – 1,000
Brad Penny – 435 – 565 – 1,000
Brandon McCarthy – 311 – 689 – 1,000
Glen Perkins – 341 – 659 – 1,000
Pedro Martinez – 108 – 892 – 1,000
Tom Glavine – 16 – 984 – 1,000
Hank Blalock – 9 – 991 – 1,000
Brian Bannister – 1 – 999 – 1,000
Justin Upton – 630 – 368 – 998
Ian Snell – 513 – 465 – 978
Rick Ankiel – 387 – 582 – 969
Anibal Sanchez – 372 – 594 – 966
J.A. Happ – 263 – 700 – 963
Billy Butler – 210 – 711 – 921
Coco Crisp – 648 – 219 – 867
Tom Gorzelanny – 131 – 730 – 861
Robinson Cano – 50 – 766 – 816
Adam Jones – 522 – 234 – 756
Jorge De La Rosa – 76 – 658 – 734
Todd Helton – 430 – 225 – 655
Nick Markakis – 498 – 110 – 608
Alexei Ramirez – 84 – 462 – 546
B.J. Upton – 301 – 229 – 530
Carl Crawford – 346 – 96 – 442
With 22 teams drafting 25 players apiece, there’s no way we could have gone head to head like that so often strictly as a coincidence. All of those similarities are likely arising because Mr. Hanson borrowed from my playing time projections to complement his performance projections. Computers are a lot better at projecting OPS than at-bats, so those systems tend to use a mix of non-computer projections to account for playing time. That’s perfectly fine with me, if that’s all it is. Finishing first and having a hand in No. 2’s success would be pretty sweet.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally¬†asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.

Masahiro Tanaka throws off mound for first time since October elbow surgery

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According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.

The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.

Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.

The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.

Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.