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THT's Fantasy Archives
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The hopes of many fantasy teams this season took a deep blow when Major League Baseball suspended Manny Ramirez for 50 games late last week for testing positive for the female fertility drug hCG.
Many owners of Manny may have contemplated filing a class action lawsuit against the guy. (Sorry, that probably won't work.) Maybe the second thought involved trade.
But what's Manny worth these days?
First, let's take a look at the real market. Here's a network diagram of recent one-for-one trades involving Manny in the aftermath of the latest PED suspension.
Obviously, some owners have been able to get good players such as Tim Lincecum, Matt Holliday, and Dan Haren in return. The vast majority of trades, though, almost look like frustrated Manny dumps: Eric Stults? Nyjer Morgan? Brian Bannister???
What's really fair value for Manny?
Coming into the season, according to our roundup of projections from respected organizations like Baseball Prospectus, BaseballHQ, ESPN, etc., Manny was expected to produce a line like 30 HR, 99 RBI, 86 runs, 2 steals, and a .299 AVG.
Manny is eligible to return in early July. Nobody knows for sure how the mental stress of being publicly humiliated will sit with Manny upon his return, but given his history of being able to shrug off pressure, we might expect Manny's remaining production in 2009 to be roughly half of those counting stats.
The question then becomes what player will produce 19 weeks of stats in equivalence to Manny's expected 12?
We took consensus preseason projections for all major league players, translated these projections into a player rater similar to the one we covered in this column last week, and compared the resulting values to each other. So who are the players we can expect Manny to equal from now until the end of the season?
According to our data, here's a few names of equivalent value: Milton Bradley, Jayson Werth, Jhonny Peralta, JJ Hardy, Conor Jackson, Robinson Cano.
Of course, not all things are created equal. Anybody accepting Manny in a deal will have to sacrifice a roster position for 50 days since Manny isn't eligible to be put on the disabled list. Every roster spot has value and should certainly be a consideration in Manny's fantasy value.
But here's another idea for everybody dying to get rid of Manny and anybody with a deep bench looking for some long-term upside by acquiring Manny.
Before the season started, we talked about toxic assets, those things that haunt your portfolio but can't reasonably drop. How might you get rid of a toxic asset?
One good idea is to exchange one toxic asset for another. Assets are toxic for different reasons, opening the possibility of trade.
Certainly, there are fantasy teams out there who regret drafting Alexei Ramirez or the above-mentioned Milton Bradley. Perhaps these teams are so sick of these players they'll gladly accept the stability of having a guy like Manny, who they can sit on the bench with some assurance of getting at least some good value down the line.
As for Manny, well, he's a toxic asset unto himself. Perhaps a Manny owner will agree to forfeit their high investment in a dud like Manny for the upside of having another highly drafted guy who thus far hasn't worked out, but who might soon turn the tide.
Can we make a deal, everyone?
Posted by Eriq Gardner at 5:32am (8) Comments
Toward the end of last season at the beginning of September, I wrote an article (at my former site) advocating the use of strikeout percentage (K%) over the more commonly used strikeout per nine innings (K/9).
Derek and I continued to have a good discussion on the topic following the article, which kept me thinking about the issue. Is K% an improvement to K/9? Is there another stat, not yet created, that would better show a pitcher's ability to get strikeouts?
I did not reach a definite answer to these questions, but after playing devil's advocate in my mind a few times (as I will in this article by the way) I feel I have at least made progress on the answer, which lies in understanding K% and K/9, and their similarities, differences, and flaws.
The biggest difference between K% and K/9 is their baseline. K% is strikeout per batter faced while K/9 is strikeout per inning, which is essentially per out.
A baseline of per out is good because every inning, a pitcher must get three outs. How many hits or walks he allows in that time serves only to inflate the number of batters he faces. He must, however, face three batters that get out. Must. K/9 isolates this, ignoring hits and walks, and shows us how many batters he gets out via strikeouts, holding everything else constant (more or less).
A baseline of per batter faced can also be argued as good because it shows, quite clearly, how often a pitcher can strike a batter out and how often he cannot. It does not matter what the non-strikeout outcome was—be it walk, hit, or ball in play out—if the pitcher could not strike the batter out, they are not as good as someone who could.
Proponents of K/9 could argue that including walks in the K/9 equation is detrimental because control is a different skill that should not be taken into account when trying to determine a pitcher's strikeout ability. Proponents of K% could counter that walks should be included because they represent a batter that the pitcher could not strike out.
Both stats do have a major flaw, most notably their dependency on BABIP. Consider the following two innings of work:
Ground ball (hit)
Here Pitcher A would have a K/9 of 9.00, as would Pitcher B. Pitcher A's K%, however, is 33.33 percent while Pitcher B's is 20 percent.
This certainly leads one to believe that K% wrongly takes into account ball in play outcomes and K/9 is better because it does not. This argument can be flipped onto itself to prove K/9's dependency on BABIP too, though. Notice how in Pitcher B's inning of work, one ground ball went for an out and another went for a hit.
Oddly, even though both are ground balls, the outcome of the ground ball—hit or out—determines whether that batter affect's the pitchers K/9 rate. When the ground ball goes for a hit, the K/9 remains unchanged. But when the ground ball is converted into an out, the K/9 rate will go down because an out was made that was not a strikeout. That does not seem right.
Taking a step back, it seems we have done a good job of pointing out the strengths of weaknesses of both stats. With the flaws both have, I think it is possible to create a new, better stat. To do this, I will take what consider the best of both K/9 and K%.
The per out baseline of K/9 is too illogical, only counting balls in play when they go for outs, and therefore I like the batters faced baseline of K% better. I do like the way K/9 ignores walks, which should be kept separate from the ability to strike batters out.
From these two preferences arise the new stat whose equation is K/(K + BIP) and I will call it True K for now, or TK.
Do I think TrueK is perfect? No. But I do believe it is better at showing who the best strikeout pitchers are. Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below
Posted by Paul Singman at 2:36am
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