The Rotoworld Draft Guide is now available

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Little known fact: like “Maude,” “Trapper John M.D.” and “Laverne and Shirley,” HardballTalk is a spinoff. Well, sorta.  Our roots are certainly elsewhere, as every writer up in this thing either wrote or currently writes for Rotoworld.  Well, not me. I’m lazy. But all the other guys do.

And the coolest thing Rotoworld does apart from being awesome on a daily basis is putting out its annual Draft Guide. The Draft Guide that is now on sale.  Seriously: go here and get it.

In it: tons of analysis, projections, and profiles for over 1,000 players ranging down to A-ball.  Articles covering prospects, keeper-league strategies, mock drafts, sleepers and busts. There are customizable, printable cheat sheets, updated depth charts for all teams and all manner of other goodness.

Though I am too lazy for most things, I did do two articles in it. One is my 2012 “Year in Preview” in which I make hilarious (well, I think they are) predictions of what might come to pass this year.  The other is the top 25 moves of the offseason. Bonus: if you order the online version instead of buying the guide at the store, you actually can see that I acknowledged the Prince Fielder deal! Print deadlines are awesome!

But my stuff is just for the fun of it. The real appeal, here is for fantasy players.  It’s chock full ‘o the kind of goodness you need to pwn your leagues.  Aaron, Matthew, D.J., Drew and many others worked a ton of hours to put this bad boy together.  It’s great stuff.

So go get it. You won’t be sorry.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.